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Stocks climb, led by technology companies and banks

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    King Michael Odunayo Ajayi, right, of Nigeria’s Osun state, was escorted by Jim Byrne, New York Stock Exchange head of U.S. listings, as he visited the trading floor of the NYSE today.

NEW YORK >> U.S. stocks are bouncing back from their recent losses today after the Chinese government said that country’s economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the first quarter. Banks and technology companies are making big gains while industrial and consumer-focused companies also climb.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,342 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 130 points, or 0.6 percent, to 20,583. The Nasdaq composite picked up 3 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,837. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,351.

Leaders included M&T Bank and Wells Fargo, chipmaker Nvidia, Google parent company Alphabet, online retail giant Amazon and streaming video company Netflix, which will report its quarterly results after the market closes.

CHINA: China’s recovering economy appeared to get stronger in the first quarter, as it grew 6.9 percent compared to a year ago. The world’s second-largest economy grew at its slowest pace in almost 30 years in 2016. Policies aimed at tempering the slowdown included higher spending on construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Relatively cheap credit spurred booming property sales.

LET’S NOT SPLIT UP: Medical device maker Alere surged after it accepted a reduced buyout offer from Abbott Laboratories. More than a year ago Abbott agreed to buy Alere for $56 per share, or $5.8 billion. But it filed a lawsuit to end the deal after Alere recalled a key product, delayed filing a financial statement, and faced an investigation into its business outside the U.S.

Under the new agreement Abbott will pay $51 a share, or about $5.3 billion, and Alere climbed $6.80, or 16.1 percent, to $49.11. It had traded as low as $31.47 last July, as investors worried the deal would fall apart after news of the investigation broke. Abbott rose 52 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $43.19.

ACHES AND PAINS: Eli Lilly and Incyte stumbled after the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve Olumiant, a pill for the immune disorder rheumatoid arthritis. Incyte said the FDA wants more clinical data about the drug’s dosing and safety, and that may mean the companies will have to run more studies of the drug. That could further delay its approval and force them to spend more.

Lilly has high hopes for Olumiant because it’s a pill while most other new rheumatoid arthritis drugs are injections. Lilly lost $3.44, or 4 percent, to $82.44 and Incyte sank $15.64, or 11.1 percent, to $125.20.

CRUNCHED: Pretzel, nuts and salty snack maker Snyder’s-Lance is tumbling after it gave a weak first-quarter forecast that included more spending on marketing and lower profit margins and then slashed its forecast for the year. Snyder’s-Lance also said its CEO Carl Lee Jr. retired and Brian Driscoll will be its interim CEO. Driscoll was the CEO of Diamond Foods, a company Snyder’s-Lance bought in 2016 for more than $1 billion. Snyder’s-Lance dropped $6.35, or 15.9 percent, to $33.57.

RETURN TO SENDER: Arconic jumped after the company said Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld agreed to step down after the board of directors discovered that he sent a letter to Arconic’s largest shareholder, activist investment firm Elliott Management, without telling the board. Arconic said that was “poor judgment.” It didn’t say what Kleinfeld wrote in the letter.

Arconic makes aluminum, titanium and nickel parts for planes, cars and electronics and it was spun off from aluminum company Alcoa last year. Elliott has been pushing the company to replace Kleinfeld to improve returns for shareholders. The stock gained 87 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $26.77.

NEW DEALS? Wireless spectrum license company Straight Path Communications climbed after it said it might get a new buyout offer. A week ago it agreed to be bought by AT&T for about $1.25 billion. Straight Path said it was contacted by another company Thursday. Straight Path stock rose $17.68, or 19.3 percent, to $109.38. Investors are now valuing the company at $1.36 billion.

Money transfer services company MoneyGram International climbed after it accepted a new, higher offer from Ant Financial worth $18 a share, or $970 million. Ant Financial, which is linked to Chinese online commerce company Alibaba, agreed to buy the company in January, but Euronet Worldwide later offered at much as $15.20 a share. MoneyGram gained $1.26, or 7.6 percent, to $17.77.

BONDS: Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.25 percent from 2.24 percent, and banks recovered some of their recent losses. They are the worst-performing part of the market recently thanks to sharp declines in bond yields and interest rates.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 53 cents, or 1 percent, to $52.65 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 53 cents to $55.36 per barrel in London. Energy companies lagged the rest of the market.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline slipped 2 cents to $1.72 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon. Natural gas decreased 6 cents, or 2 percent, to $3.16 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold rose $3.40 to $1,291.90 an ounce. Silver remained at $18.51 an ounce. Copper picked up 3 cents to $2.60 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.81 yen from 109.16 yen. The euro rose to $1.0646 from $1.0612.

OVERSEAS: Markets in Hong Kong, France, Germany and Britain were all closed for the Easter holiday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent.

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