US Stocks Mostly Higher in Early Trade

(AP) -- The major U.S. stock indexes were mostly higher in early trading Wednesday as gains by health care and consumer-goods companies offset losses elsewhere. Energy companies declined as crude oil prices headed lower. Bond yields continued to decline. The market was coming off a steep sell-off led by a slump in technology stocks.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,615 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,903. The Nasdaq lost 16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,992. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,514. More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

IN GOOD HEALTH: Investors bid up health care stocks. Incyte led the pack, gaining $2.29, or 2.7 percent, to $87.32. Irish drugmaker Shire Plc jumped 18 percent after Japanese rival Takeda said it's considering a takeover offer. Takeda said that buying Shire would enhance its R&D and its reach into the U.S. Shire's U.S.-listed shares climbed $23.20 to $152.07.

PRIVACY REVAMP: Facebook, which has taken a beating in recent days over privacy concerns, rose 1.8 percent after the social media giant said it is giving its privacy tools a makeover. The move is a response to criticisms over its data practices and the prospect of tighter European regulations in the coming months. The stock gained $2.78 to $155.

ROUGH ROAD: Tesla fell 4.5 percent after Moody's downgraded the electric car maker's credit rating. The move piles more pain on Tesla, whose stock has been pummeled by news that authorities will investigate a fatal crash that involved a Tesla electric SUV equipped with a semi-autonomous control system. The stock lost $12.63 to $266.55.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 81 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $64.44 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 67 cents, or 1 percent, to $68.79 per barrel in London.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.76 percent from 2.78 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.18 yen from 105.54 yen Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.2339 from $1.2402.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX lost 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent. Indexes in Asia finished lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 sank 1.3 percent and South Korea's Kospi slid 1.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slumped 2.5 percent. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries also fell.

(BE)