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Stocks trending higher Wednesday, reversing some losses from last week

Stocks trending higher Wednesday, reversing some losses from last week
Specialist Peter Mazza, left, and trader John Panin work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 6. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Global stock indexes jumped Wednesday, cutting into some of their big losses from the week before. In the U.S., technology companies rallied and energy companies rose along with crude oil prices. Healthcare and industrial companies also jumped, while safer, high-dividend stocks such as utilities and household goods makers were little changed.

The S&P 500 index rose 31 points, or 1.2%, to 2,668 at 10:10 a.m. EST. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 271 points, or 1.1%, to 24,641. The Nasdaq composite jumped 110 points, or 1.6%, to 7,142. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 19 points, or 1.4%, to 1,460.

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Stocks have gyrated this week after they took steep losses at the end of the week before. The repeated changes in direction reflect investors' nervousness about the health of the global economy as economic growth is expected to slow down in 2019 and the U.S.-China trade dispute and rising interest rates could both make that slowdown more painful.

Among technology companies, Microsoft rallied 2% to $110.79 and Apple added 1.3% to $170.87. Amazon gained 2.3% to $1,681, and Netflix jumped 3.6% to $274.89 as internet and media companies joined in the gains.

Among industrials, Caterpillar climbed 2.5% to $126.27 and Boeing rose 1.4% to $326.50. Equipment rental company United Rentals surged 7.8% to $109.76 after it gave strong forecasts for 2019 and said it will start buying back more stock this month. The company said it stopped buying its own stock at the beginning of November following an acquisition.

In Britain, Conservative Party legislators forced a no-confidence vote in their leader, Prime Minister Theresa May. The vote is scheduled for later Wednesday and could end May's tenure, bringing even more chaos into British politics. Some Tory lawmakers have expressed frustrations with May over her negotiations of Britain's departure from the European Union, and many of them want a cleaner break from the trading bloc. Opposition lawmakers don't want Britain to leave the EU.

The uncertainty has knocked the British pound sharply lower in recent days, but it rose Wednesday to $1.2622, from $1.2527. The British FTSE 100 stock index added 1.1%.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in November, according to the Labor Department. Prices had edged up over the previous seven months. Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, rose 0.2% in November and is up 2.2% over the last year. However, energy prices fell sharply as the price of crude oil plunged more than 20% in November.

The CAC 40 in France surged 2%, and Germany's DAX rose 1.3%. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 2.2%, and South Korea's Kospi rose 1.4%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1.6%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 0.7% to $52.02 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 1.5% to $61.08 per barrel in London.

Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.89%, from 2.88%.

The dollar dipped to 113.29 yen, from 113.40 yen. The euro rose to $1.1361, from $1.1325.

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