Energy companies lead US stocks higher as crude oil climbs

Tommy Kalikas
The Associated Press

Energy companies led U.S. stocks higher in afternoon trading Monday, adding to solid gains at the end of last week. The sector got a boost from crude oil prices, which were trading above $70 a barrel for the first time since November 2014. Gains in technology and bank stocks also helped lift the market, outweighing losses among beverage makers and other consumer goods companies.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,677 as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 114 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,377. The Nasdaq added 69 points, or 1 percent, to 7,278. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 20 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,586.

ENERGY: Crude oil prices have been rising as investors weigh heightened geopolitical risks in the Middle East, a push by OPEC to slash oil production and strong worldwide demand amid a global economic expansion. On Monday, oil futures rose to their highest level since November 2014 as a May 12 deadline approached for the U.S. to certify the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.01, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $70.73 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.23, or 1.6 percent, to $76.10 a barrel in London.

The pickup in oil prices helped lift energy company shares. Range Resources was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, rising 5.8 percent to $14.42.

THE QUOTE: “Concern about Iran has oil up, taking energy stocks up and helping out the whole market,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. “Earnings are up. You just have these fantastic tail winds and the absence of bad news and the market has nowhere to go but up.”

TECH RALLY: Shares in technology companies climbed, adding to the sector’s gains this year. Nvidia was among the biggest gainers, rising 4.5 percent to $249.83.

BANK ON IT: Financial sector stocks also racked up solid gains. Morgan Stanley was up 2 percent to $52.44.

APPETIZING RESULTS: Sysco added 2.3 percent to $63.71 after the food distributor reported earnings for its latest quarter that came in ahead of what analysts were expecting.

STRONG BREW: Starbucks slipped 0.2 percent to $57.55 after Nestle paid $7.15 billion for the rights to sell the company’s coffee products around the world. Nestle gained 1.3 percent to $77.28.

HEALTHY ACQUISITION: Shares in Athenahealth vaulted 15.6 percent to $145.76 on news that Elliott Management has made a bid to acquire the medical software and services company.

MAKING A DEAL: Gramercy Property Trust jumped 15.6 percent to $27.53 after Blackstone Group offered to buy the commercial real estate owner in a deal valued at around $7.6 billion.

MISSED THE MARK: Cognizant Technology Solutions slid 4.8 percent to $78.25 after the information technology consulting firm’s earnings outlook for the current quarter was below analysts’ forecasts.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 2.95 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.06 yen from 109.11 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1927 from $1.1962.

METALS: Gold slipped 60 cents to $1,314.10 an ounce. Silver dropped 2 cents to $16.50 an ounce. Copper lost a penny to $3.08 a pound.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX added 1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.3 percent. British stock markets were closed for a public holiday. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipped less than 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent. Taiwan’s benchmark rose, but Southeast Asian indexes finished mostly lower. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

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