Stocks closed solidly higher Wednesday, shaking off some recent doldrums and giving the S&P 500 its biggest daily gain since late August. Energy companies did particularly well as prices for crude oil and natural gas climbed, and Microsoft helped pull the tech sector higher after announcing a dividend increase and a new stock buyback program. The S&P 500 added 0.8%, as did the Nasdaq composite. Small-company stocks did even better with a 1.1% gain. Utilities, which investors shun when they’re more willing to take on risk, were the only sector to fall. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.30%.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Technology and energy companies helped lead stocks higher in afternoon trading Wednesday, lifting the benchmark S&P 500 to a gain for the week.
The S&P 500 index was up 0.8% as of 2:41 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 245 points, or 0.7%, to 34,821 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.7%.
The gains were broad, with more than 80% of stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 rising. Health care and financial stocks also made solid gains. Only utilities companies lagged.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.31% from 1.27% late Tuesday. Banks benefitted from the higher yields, which allow them to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. Citigroup rose 2.8% and Capital One rose 2.7%.
Oil prices rose more than 3% and natural gas prices rose 3.7% as the oil and gas industry continues to sort through the damage caused by hurricane season in the Gulf. Disruptions have been more pronounced than originally expected, and there’s been some oil spills from some refineries.
ExxonMobil was up 3.1%, which was helping lift the blue chips more than the rest of the market. Occidental Petroleum was up more than 5% and Marathon Oil was up 5.4%.
Casino stocks were falling following reports of a possible crackdown on the industry by Chinese officials in Macau, the former Portuguese colony and gambling center. Wynn Resorts was down 7.4% for the biggest drop in the S&P 500, while MGM Resorts fell 3.3% and Las Vegas Sands slid 2.3%.
Investors have been navigating a choppy market as they try to determine how rising cases of COVID-19 because of the highly contagious delta variant will impact economic growth. The employment market has been slow to recover and consumer spending has been tempered in recent months.
Wall Street will get get more information on jobs and consumer spending on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment benefits and the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August.