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U.S. Stock Indexes Move Higher in Morning Trading; Oil Rises

Benchmark U.S. crude was up 63 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $53.66 a barrel in New York

The Wall Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange, photo: AP/Richard Drew, File
12 months ago

Technology and health care companies helped lift U.S. stocks higher in morning trading Tuesday, nudging the Dow Jones industrial average closer to crossing the 20,000-point mark. Utilities and real estate stocks headed lower. Oil prices were moving higher. A key gauge of housing values showed U.S. home prices increased again in October.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,967 as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,272. The Nasdaq composite index rose 39 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,502.

DRILL THIS: Oil and gas drilling and services companies were trading higher. Transocean gained 45 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $15.18, while Helmerich & Payne added $2.23, or 2.9 percent, to $80.62. National Oilwell Varco rose 63 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $39.01.

RETAILERS RISE: Several retailers were also moving higher. Amazon added $10.65, or 1.4 percent, to $771.24. Bed Bath & Beyond gained 48 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $41.25, while Tiffany & Co. rose 98 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $78.11.

LOOKING FIT: Shares in Fitbit climbed 4 percent after the fitness tracker company’s app became the second-most downloaded in the iTunes store. The stock added 29 cents to $7.59.

NEW DRUG: Biogen rose 2.3 percent on news that the Federal Drug Administration approved the company’s treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disorder. The FDA approved the drug, Spinraza, late Friday. The stock added $6.59 to $294.12.

MANUFACTURING FALLOUT: Endologix plunged 20.6 percent after the drugmaker said that the FDA has ordered it to cease shipping a device used to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms because of manufacturing problems. The company said the problem only affects some sizes of its AFX Endovascular AAA system and that no clinical problems have been reported. Endologix shares lost $1.48 to $5.71.

HOME PRICES: An index of U.S. home prices increased in October, as buyers bidding for scarce properties drove home prices higher. The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier after climbing 5 percent in September. The broader Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6 percent in October and has fully recovered from the financial crisis.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.2 percent, while the CAC 40 of France was 0.2 percent higher. Markets in Britain are closed for Boxing Day. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was nearly flat. The Kospi of South Korea rose 0.2 percent, while India’s Sensex added 0.8 percent. Markets in Hong Kong and Australia were also closed.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 63 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $53.66 a barrel in New York. Oil markets were closed Monday for the holiday. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude gained 7 cents. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 63 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $55.79 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.57 percent from 2.54 percent late Friday. Markets were closed Monday for the holiday. In currency trading, the dollar rose to 117.59 yen from 117.26. The euro fell to $1.0457 from $1.0452.

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