S&P 500 snaps losing streak as industrial, tech stocks rise

FILE - This March 4, 2013, file photo shows a sign for Wall Street on the side of a building near the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stocks perked higher in early trading, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was on track for its first gain in five days. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Mark Lennihan

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes perked higher on Thursday following a nearly weeklong lull, and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose for the first time in five days.

Industrial and technology companies helped lead the way, as broad swaths of the market climbed. Nearly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, and the price of crude oil clawed back some of its sharp loss from Wednesday.

The S&P 500 rose 7.71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,636.98 and snapped its longest losing streak since March. Losses through that span were modest, though, with the index down only 0.7 percent.

The Dow Jones industrials average rose 70.57, or 0.3 percent, to 24,211.48, the Nasdaq composite gained 36.47, or 0.5 percent, to 6,812.84 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks jumped 11.59, or 0.8 percent, to 1,520.47.

The gains were a return to form for a stock market that earlier had been driving higher on expectations that Washington will push through an overhaul of the tax system. The Senate passed its proposal over the weekend, and its plan would create slightly different winners and losers among corporate taxpayers than the House of Representatives' version. This week, investors have been trying to shift to the areas of the market they see ultimately benefiting the most, which led to some ups and downs.

Stocks may continue to drift until investors get more clarity on what the final tax proposal will be, said Tom Stringfellow, chief investment officer at Frost Investment Advisors.

"The market has already been bid up on anticipation of this, and the real test will be what do both houses come up with and what is put on the president's desk to sign," he said.

In the meantime, a strengthening global economy and climbing corporate earnings are supporting stock prices. "We have seen so many positives flow through, from Europe to Asia to global trade," Stringfellow said. "It's just those wild cards out there," such as a potential conflict with North Korea, that worry investors.

Technology stocks were some of the market's better performers, shaking off an uncharacteristic weak stretch. The industry stumbled earlier this week on expectations that it will benefit less from lower tax rates than financial companies, retailers and other areas of the market.

Tech stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent, and they trimmed their loss for the week to 0.3 percent. They are up nearly 36 percent for the year, double the S&P 500's gain.

Energy stocks recovered some of their losses from a day earlier as the price of oil ticked higher.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 73 cents to settle at $56.69 per barrel and recovered a chunk of its $1.66 loss from Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 98 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $62.20 a barrel in London. That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 0.3 percent.

More evidence that the job market is strengthening also arrived after a government report showed that fewer workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The numbers are considered a proxy for layoffs, and they offer an encouraging sign that the U.S. labor market continues to improve.

On Friday, the government will release its closely watched monthly jobs report. If it shows as much strength in hiring during November as economists expect, the Federal Reserve will likely be on track to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. It would be the third rate increase of the year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.36 percent from 2.34 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 113.13 Japanese yen from 112.28 yen late Wednesday. The euro dipped to $1.774 from $1.1793, and the British pound rose to $1.3465 from $1.3375.

In the commodities markets, gold fell $13.00 to settle at $1,253.10 per ounce, silver lost 15 cents to $15.80 per ounce and copper was close to flat at $2.96 per pound.

Natural gas fell 16 cents to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 4 cents to $1.90 per gallon and wholesale gasoline added 4 cents to $1.70 per gallon.

In stock markets overseas, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.4 percent following its worst day since March, a 2 percent loss. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent, and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 percent.

Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent, the FTSE 100 in London dipped 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent.

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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