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Banks and energy companies lead U.S. stocks higher; oil rising

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    Stocks are opening moderately higher on Wall Street led by gains in banks and technology companies.

U.S. stocks moved higher in afternoon trading today, on course to erase modest losses from the day before. Banks and energy companies accounted for most of the gains. Retailers also rose. Utilities lagged the most.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,689 as of 2:17 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,819. The Nasdaq composite added 18 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,979. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 9 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,549.

U.S. market indexes have risen over the past few weeks as Washington moved closer to passing its tax overhaul, but they haven’t done much over the last several days as Congress voted on the bill.

FANCYING FINANCIALS: Banks and other financial companies were among the big gainers. Wells Fargo rose $1.56, or 2.6 percent, to $61.70.

RETAIL RALLY: Several big retailers headed higher. Mattel added 71 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $15.83.

ON THE MEND: Finish Line jumped 10.9 percent after the athletic shoe and apparel retailer reported a quarterly loss that was more modest than analysts were expecting, and its revenue came in ahead of forecasts. The stock gained $1.28 to $12.95.

SOLID QUARTER: Consulting firm Accenture climbed 2.8 percent after it reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The stock was up $4.28 to $156.03.

FIRE FALLOUT: California utility PG&E plunged 13.1 percent after it suspended its dividend to conserve cash amid concerns that it may be found liable for wildfires in northern California. The stock lost $6.68 to $44.44.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent while France’s CAC 40 added 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gained 1 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.1 percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.43 yen from 113.42 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1864 from $1.1879.

ENERGY: Oil prices veered higher, reversing losses from earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 20 cents to $58.29 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained 26 cents to $64.82 a barrel in London.

The pickup in oil prices helped lift energy stocks. Hess was up $2.28, or 5.2 percent, to $46.27.

METALS: Gold rose $1 to $1,270.60 an ounce. Silver fell 4 cents to $16.24 an ounce. Copper added 2 cents to $3.22 a pound.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.48 percent from 2.50 percent late Wednesday.

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