Tech, banks lead US stocks sharply higher; Dow up 650 points

U.S. & World
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Trader Sal Suarino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, March 26, 2018. U.S. stocks rose sharply in early trading Monday as the market made up some of its huge losses from last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks climbed sharply higher in late-afternoon trading Monday, giving the Dow Jones industrial average a gain of more than 650 points and erasing some of the market’s huge losses last week.

Banks also notched solid gains, benefiting from a pickup in bond yields. The rally was broad, lifting retailers, consumer goods companies and health care stocks. The rebound followed the worst week for U.S. stocks in two years.

The turnaround came as investors were encouraged by signs that the U.S. and China are open to negotiating to avert a trade dispute.

“Certainly nothing’s settled,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Investors are still viewing this as a glass half-full market and a constructive economy, so it’s not surprising to see them buy on value here, buy on dips to try to rebuild their positions.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 63 points, or 2.5 percent, to 2,652 as of 3:40 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 656 points, or 2.8 percent, to 24,192. The Dow lost more than 1,400 points last week.

The Nasdaq added 200 points, or 2.9 percent, to 7,193. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 29 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,539.

Global stock markets fell sharply last week amid fears of a trade war after President Donald Trump announced duties on $60 billion worth of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy. On Friday, Beijing released a $3 billion list of U.S. goods targeted for possible retaliation over an earlier U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports. That prompted fears the spat might depress trade worldwide and set back the global economic recovery.

Those fears eased Monday, after China’s government said it is open to negotiating with Washington. That announcement followed a news report indicating that U.S. officials have submitted a list of market-opening requests.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, didn’t confirm the report by The Wall Street Journal but said at a regular briefing, “Our door for dialogue and discussion is always open.”

China has yet to say how it might respond to Trump’s approval Thursday of possible higher duties on $60 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints of Beijing stealing or improperly pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology.

That didn’t appear to dampen investors’ resurgent optimism Monday.

“This declaration of tariffs on the president’s part was his typical opening salvo into a negotiation process,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. “He’s done these things in the past, and now it looks like the markets are telling us, ‘Yep, that’s what’s happening.'”

Technology companies recouped some of the sector’s big losses last week. Microsoft rose $6.18, or 7.1 percent, to $93.36.

Financial stocks surged as bond yields rose. Higher yields are good for banks, because they drive up interest rates on mortgages and other loans, making them more profitable for lenders. Bank of America added $1.18, or 4 percent, to $30.35.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.84 percent from 2.81 percent late Friday.

Lowe’s climbed 6.3 percent after the home-improvement retailer said Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock is retiring. The stock gained $5.25 to $89.02.

Facebook continued to slide as the social media giant faced new questions about collecting phone numbers and text messages from Android devices. The Federal Trade Commission confirmed Friday that it is investigating Facebook’s privacy practices, including whether the company engaged in “unfair acts” that cause “substantial injury” to consumers. The stock, which already took a big hit last week, slid $3.89, or 2.4 percent, to $155.50.

The latest corporate deal news also put investors in a buying mood Monday.

Finish Line vaulted $3.21, or 30.4 percent, to $13.76 after the sporting goods retailer agreed to be bought by JD Sports Fashion PLC.

USG Corp. jumped $6.54, or 19.5 percent, to $40.05 after the building products company rejected an offer worth $42 per share from Knauf.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 33 cents to settle at $65.55 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 33 cents to close at $70.12 in London.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil was little changed at $2.02 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $2.01 a gallon. Natural gas added 3 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $5.10 to $1,355 an ounce. Silver gained 10 cents to $16.68 an ounce. Copper slipped 2 cents to $2.97 a pound.

The dollar rose to 105.22 yen from 104.82 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.2455 from $1.2367.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC-40 lost 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.5 percent. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent. Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.8 percent. India’s Sensex rose 0.3 percent.

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