Tech, Health Care Drive Stocks Up

(AP) -- U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading Thursday, extending solid gains from a day earlier. Technology and health care companies accounted for much of the broad gain. Investors were sizing up the latest company earnings and economic news. Crude oil prices were down slightly.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,708 as of 9:53 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 91 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,634. The Nasdaq added 24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,364. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,599.

TECH BOOST: A pickup in technology stocks helped boost the market. Micron Technology rose 3 percent to $52.55. Qualcomm gained 1.8 percent after the company's board approved a $10 billion share buyback.

BROACASTWORTHY: CenturyLink climbed 6.7 percent to $19.25 after the telecom company reported earnings that were much higher than analysts were expecting.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Booking Holdings slid 5.6 percent to $2,062.38 its latest quarterly report card disappointed traders.

INFLATION BELLWETHER: The Labor Department said that U.S. consumer prices rose a modest 0.2 percent in April, a sign that broader inflation pressure remain muted. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices ticked up just 0.1 percent last month and 2.1 percent from April last year. Slower growth in core prices may mean that the Federal Reserve will be less inclined to accelerate interest rate hikes. The Fed has signaled they will lift rates twice more this year. Some expect that an uptick in inflation or economic growth might spur the Fed to add a third hike.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched lower, dropping 7 cents to $71.07 a barrel in New York. The contract surged $2.08, or 3 percent, to $71.14 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 27 cents to $76.94 per barrel.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.96 percent from 3 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.47 yen from 109.72 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1946 from $1.1861. The pound weakened to $1.3546 from $1.3555 after the Bank of England held off raising interest rates due to weaker economic growth so far this year.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent and France's CAC 40 slipped less than 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained nearly 1.0 percent. Shares were higher in most other markets apart from Singapore.

(BE)