Wall St. on track for four-day rally; tech lifts Dow

 

Reuters
 
Trader Kevin Lodewick works on the floor of the NYSE, which has been decorated with Christmas lights, in New York
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Trader Kevin Lodewick works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which has been decorated with Christmas lights, in New York December 22, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Monday, putting major indexes on track for a fourth straight daily gain, with gains in large-cap tech shares giving an outsized boost to the Dow.

Major indexes remained near record levels, but trading was quiet this week given the upcoming Christmas holiday. The stock market will be closed on Thursday and close early on Wednesday.

Energy shares continued their recent downward trend as crude oil (CLc1) sank 3.3 percent on the day after Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister said OPEC would not cut production at any price. The S&P energy index (.SPNY) fell 1.2 percent as the day’s weakest sector; Chevron Corp (CVX.N) lost 1 percent to $111.76 while Halliburton Co (HAL.N) was off 2.2 percent at $39.61.

Crude oil is on track for its fifth straight weekly decline and has fallen in 12 of the past 13 weeks.

“A decline like this means oil hasn’t stabilized or found a bottom,” said Rex Macey, chief allocation officer at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Atlanta, Georgia. “While I’m comfortable with the level of the broader market, I don’t think there are obvious bargains. Some may say oil stocks are bargains now, but it’s too soon to say.”

 

Gilead (GILD.O) slumped 12 percent to $95.01 as the biggest drag on both the S&P and Nasdaq 100 (.NDX) indexes. Express Scripts (ESRX.O), the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager, said it would no longer cover Gilead’s treatments after it lined up a cheaper price from AbbVie Inc (ABBV.N) for its newly approved hepatitis C treatment.

The benchmark S&P index rose 3.4 percent last week, boosted by a 5 percent jump over three sessions, after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would take a “patient” approach toward raising interest rates and oil prices appeared to stabilize.

At 2:42 p.m. (1943 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 105.64 points, or 0.59 percent, to 17,910.44, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 3.38 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,074.03 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 9.24 points, or 0.19 percent, to 4,774.62.

Tech shares lifted the Dow, with Intel Corp (INTC.O) up 2.2 percent to $37.16 and IBM (IBM.N) up 1.7 percent to $161.19. Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) rose 1.4 percent to $28.17.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc (ACHN.O) said it would test a combination of two of its experimental hepatitis C drugs which showed promise in separate studies. Shares surged 10 percent to $15.61.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,651 to 1,408, for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,538 issues rose and 1,197 fell for a 1.28-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 66 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 129 new highs and 31 new lows.

(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)