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Stocks climb, led by tech-sector rally

Stocks climb, led by tech-sector rally
The facade of the New York Stock Exchange is shown. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

U.S. stocks made solid gains Thursday as Apple and Qualcomm led a technology-sector rally. Drugmakers and health insurers also rose.

Apple changed course and rose a day after it introduced three new iPhone models and updates to the Apple Watch. Chipmakers recovered after a steep drop the day before.

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Stock indexes in Turkey and other emerging markets rose after the Turkish central bank raised interest rates sharply in response to its nation's currency crisis.

Technology stocks edged higher after a four-day losing streak last week, their longest since April. Investors worried about the prospect of heavier regulation for companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 15.26 points, or 0.5%, to 2,904.18. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 147.07 points, or 0.6%, to 26,145.99. The Nasdaq composite climbed 59.48 points, or 0.7%, to 8,013.71. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 1.38 points, or 0.1%, to 1,714.32.

Apple climbed 2.4% to $226.41, and Qualcomm rose 4% to $74.61 after it announced a $16-billion stock repurchase. Other chipmakers, including Skyworks and Broadcom, also rose.

Insurance companies reversed their recent losses, and home improvement retailers slipped as Hurricane Florence weakened somewhat. The slow-moving storm is expected to reach the East Coast on Friday and might remain around the Carolinas for days, but investors figure that it won't do as much damage as previously estimated, so property insurers wouldn't have to pay out as much. RenaissanceRe jumped 2.7% to $130.95. Everest Re climbed 3.1% to $220.69.

Supermarket company Kroger, whose chains include Ralphs and Food 4 Less, dropped 9.9% to $28.58 after its sales fell short of Wall Street forecasts.

The Department of Labor said its index of consumer prices edged up 0.2% in August and has risen 2.7% over the last year. That's a bit slower than the 2.9% year-over-year gain it reported in July. Investors have worried that faster inflation could threaten economic growth and the current bull market.

Cable channel operator Discovery rose 3.7% to $31.84, adding to its Wednesday gain of 7.7%. The company climbed after announcing a deal that will make more of its programming available on the streaming service Hulu.

This month, there will be a shift in the way the S&P 500 is divided. Currently, the index has 11 industrial sectors that track industries such as energy and healthcare. Before the start of trading Sept. 24, some companies will be moved out of the technology sector and into a new group called “communications services.”

The new communications services group will include Facebook, Netflix, Alphabet and Twitter, as well as media companies such as Disney; telecom companies such as AT&T, which recently bought the media conglomerate Time Warner; and video game makers such as Activision Blizzard.

Lindsey Bell, an investment strategist with CFRA, said the changes could encourage investors to look at smaller technology companies that may have been overlooked when viewed alongside giants such as Apple and Alphabet.

“Some of these software companies do have great potential, and I think they've been underappreciated,” she said.

The technology sector will get smaller, but it will still be the largest portion of the benchmark index. Bell said the changes might cause some volatility in the stock market as funds adjust their holdings. But she said the changes should make the two sectors a bit easier to understand.

Turkey's central bank raised its key interest rate to contain the nation's currency crisis and inflation. The Turkish lira rose 4.4% against the U.S. dollar, and Turkey's main stock index climbed 2.4%.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had repeatedly and publicly pushed the central bank to keep interest rates low. That shook investors' confidence, as they grew worried about the bank's independence and Turkey's ability to react to inflation, slowing growth and its diplomatic spat with the United States.

The stock indexes of Argentina, Russia and Mexico also rose. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.5%; it fell nine of the previous 10 days.

Acorda Therapeutics fell 2.4% to $18.05 after announcing that the Food and Drug Administration will take three more months to review its inhaled Parkinson's disease treatment Inbrija. On Monday, the stock sank 25% after Acorda said an appeals court ruled that four patents on its drug Ampyra are not valid, paving the way for other companies to sell their own versions. The stock has plunged 34% over an eight-day losing streak.

Goldman Sachs ended an 11-day losing streak. It rose 0.1% to $228.33.

Benchmark U.S. crude slid 2.5% to $68.59 a barrel in New York. It jumped 4.3% over the previous two days. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 2% to $78.18 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2.1% to $1.99 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.5% to $2.22 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 0.4% to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.97% from 2.96%.

The dollar rose to 111.88 yen from 111.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.1692 from $1.1632.

Gold fell 0.2% to $1,208.20 an ounce. Silver fell 0.3% to $14.24 an ounce. Copper rose 0.3% to $2.68 a pound.

3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices and context.

11:45 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 7:05 a.m.

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