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Technology companies and retailers lead stocks higher

Wall Street
A street sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street on Monday, sending the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes to all-time highs.

Technology stocks accounted for much of the rally, which added to the market’s gains from last week. Retailers, restaurant chains and other companies that rely on consumer spending also notched solid gains.

Traders also shifted money into U.S. government bonds, sending yields lower, and they bid up the price of gold. Both can signal uneasiness in the market. Investors mostly shunned energy and materials stocks, which depend upon economic growth more than other sectors do.

The latest gyrations in the market come as investors weigh encouraging U.S. economic data and company earnings against lingering uncertainty over the potential global economic fallout from the virus outbreak in China.

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“If this virus didn’t exist, there would be a lot of good things for the market to hang on to,” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen. “It’s prudent that you’d be paring back your cyclical bets, while trying to maintain a posture that will still benefit from what we think was going to be a positive year for the global economy and the markets.”

The S&P 500 index gained 24.38 points, or 0.7%, to 3,352.09. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 174.31 points, or 0.6%, to 29,276.82. The Nasdaq climbed 107.88 points, or 1.1%, to 9,628.39.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged lower to 1.56% from 1.57% late Friday.

Businesses around the world are continuing to feel the effect of the new coronavirus. Sony and Amazon became the latest companies to pull out of a major European technology show due to fears over the outbreak.

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The virus has infected more than 42,700 people, with most of those cases and almost all the deaths occurring in China. The world’s second-largest economy has been taking more measures to soften the economic blow, including funding low-interest loans to businesses while promising tax cuts and subsidies.

“It seems like whatever kind of momentum there might have been in the global economy has been arrested for now,” Nick said. “And, if you do see a stabilization, it’s going to be a delayed one that probably takes place more in the second quarter or third quarter.”

Investors continued to bet that stocks, particularly technology companies, will weather any economic bumps from the outbreak. Chipmakers led the sector’s gains Monday. Advanced Micro Devices climbed 5% and Nvidia rose 4.5%.

Amazon led a rally in consumer-focused companies, which include restaurant chains, home builders and car dealership operators. The online retail giant rose 2.7%.

Strong earnings helped push Botox maker Allergan 1.3% higher.

Exxon Mobil dropped 1.1% along with most other energy stocks after U.S. crude oil fell 1.5%.

Taubman Centers soared 53.2% after the mall operator agreed to be acquired by rival Simon Property Group in a deal valued at about $3.6 billion. Taubman manages or leases 26 shopping centers in the U.S. and Asia. Simon, the nation’s largest operator of shopping malls, owns or has a stake in 204 properties in the U.S. Shares in Simon rose 1.4%.

Edgewell Personal Care surged 27.5% after the owner of Schick razors said it would end its $1.37-billion buyout pursuit for upstart shaving company Harry’s. Edgewell, the No. 2 razor maker in the U.S., behind Gillette, made the decision shortly after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the sale.

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Xerox rose 1.4% after the copier maker raised its offer for computer and printer maker HP to nearly $35 billion. HP, which rose 0.8%, had rejected a prior bid that it considered too low. Both companies are struggling as the demand for printed documents and ink have waned, and both are cutting costs.

Companies are more than halfway through their latest round of earnings, and 65 companies in the S&P 500 will report this week. Toy maker Hasbro and hotel operator Hilton will release results Tuesday. CVS Health will release its results Wednesday, and Kraft Heinz will report earnings Thursday.

Investors will also have several economic reports to consider this week, including the government’s consumer price index update for January, along with retail sales and industrial production reports.

Benchmark crude oil fell 75 cents to settle at $49.57 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped $1.20 to close at $53.27 a barrel.

Gold rose $6.10 to $1,574.70 an ounce and silver rose 10 cents to $17.76 an ounce.

The dollar fell to 109.70 Japanese yen from 109.74 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.0914 from $1.0946.


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