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Banks Lead U.S. Stock Indexes Higher, and Dollar Jumps Again

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 68 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $50.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange
By The News · 15 of December 2016 09:26:51
Trader John Panin, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Trader John Panin, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Stocks are little changed on Wall Street in early trading, a day after indexes set their latest all-time highs. (AP Photo/Richard Drew), photo: AP/Richard Drew

U.S. stock indexes rose Thursday morning, led by banks and other financial companies which stand to make bigger profits with expectations of higher interest rates on the way. The dollar continued to climb against other currencies after the Federal Reserve raised its forecast for interest-rate increases next year.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,263 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 19,883. Nasdaq Composite rose 29 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,466.

GO GREENBACK: The ICE U.S. Dollar index, which tracks the value of the dollar against the euro, Japanese yen and four other currencies, jumped more than 1 percent and touched its highest level since 2002.

The dollar’s value has been generally climbing since 2014 because the U.S. economy seemed to be in better shape than those in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, even though U.S. growth was still only modest. It’s jumping more now after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised short-term interest rates and forecast three more increases next year.

The dollar rose to 118.36 Japanese yen from 116.37 late Wednesday, which follows a 1 percent jump from the day before. The euro fell to $1.0436 from $1.0557, and the British pound fell to $1.2484 from $1.2596.

BANKING ON BIGGER PROFITS: Financial stocks in the S&P 500 jumped 1.6 percent, far more than any of the other 10 sectors that make up the index. Higher interest rates could help banks reap bigger profits from making loans. Bank of America jumped 55 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $23.22, and Wells Fargo rose $1.22, or 2.2 percent, to $55.97

DIVIDEND APPEAL DULLED: Stocks that pay big dividends dragged behind the rest of the market on fears that higher interest rates will push income investors away from them and into bonds. Utility stocks in the S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent, and real-estate stocks dipped 0.4 percent.

BREACHED: Yahoo fell $1.30, or 3.2 percent, to $39.61 after disclosing a breach that affected more than a billion user accounts, the largest such attack in history.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.1 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was virtually flat.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 68 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $50.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 38 cents to $53.52 a barrel in London.

METALS: Gold sank $32.30, or 2.8 percent, to $1,131.40 per ounce. Silver sank $1.13, or 6.5 percent, to $16.09 an ounce and copper slipped 1 cent, or 0.1 percent, to $2.60 a pound.