Rally for US stocks plods into fifth day; oil keeps rising

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks nudged higher again on Tuesday, and the modest gains put the S&P 500 on pace to rise for a fifth straight day.

After flitting between small gains and losses in the first hour of trading, U.S. indexes added a bit more in midday trading to the records they set a day earlier. Stocks have been vaulting higher in the last week on optimism about an interim U.S.-China trade deal announced on Friday. A Federal Reserve meeting last week also spurred buying after investors saw signals from Chairman Jerome Powell that interest rates will stay low for a while.

Gains for Amazon, Target and other companies that depend on spending by consumers helped to push the S&P 500 modestly higher, but drops for UnitedHealth, Boston Scientific and other health care stocks kept the market in check.

Treasury yields gave back some of their gains from a day earlier, while the price of crude oil continued its recent march higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 0.1% as of 11:37 a.m. Eastern time. If it stays up for the day, it would be the fifth straight gain for the index. Slightly more stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 58 points, or 0.2%, to 28,294, and the Nasdaq composite was virtually flat. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks was also flat.

BUBBLING UP: Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.5% for one of the bigger gains among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Crude oil has been touching its highest price in three months, and Noble Energy rose 1.9% for one of the bigger gains among stocks in the S&P 500, and Halliburton rose 1.5%.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 64 cents, or 1.1%, to $60.85 per barrel. The last time it was over $61 was in September. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 57 cents to $65.91 per barrel.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury crept back down to 1.87% from 1.89% late Monday. The two-year yield slipped to 1.6 1 % from 1.65%, and the 30-year yield fell to 2.30% from 2.31%.

ECONOMIC SIGNALS: Industrial production and manufacturing were stronger last month than economists expected, but they still are weaker than a year ago. Industrial production rebounded to 1.1% growth in November from October, better than the 0.8% that the market was expecting. But it remains 0.8% below year-ago levels.

Housing data were also stronger than expected. Homebuilders broke ground on 3.2% more homes in November than October, well above the 1.2% growth that economists had projected. Housing has been on the upswing for months following three interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve earlier in the year.

STREAMING EVERYWHERE: Netflix jumped 3.5% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500. The company reported breakdowns for its revenue and membership by region, which analysts said showed that Netflix has been increasing its prices steadily around the world.

BOUNCING BEYOND: Bed Bath & Beyond surged 6.9% after its new CEO shook up the company’s management by removing six senior executives, including its chief merchandising officer and chief legal officer. CEO Mark Tritton, who took over the company about two months ago, said it was the first in a number of steps Bed Bath & Beyond is taking to transform itself.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European markets were weaker. The French CAC 40 fell 0.3%, and the German DAX lost 0. 7 %. The FTSE 100 in London edged down by less than 0.1%.

Worries about a potentially messy exit by the United Kingdom from the European Union sent the value of the British pound skidding.

Asian stocks were stronger. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.5%, South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.2%.


AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.

Stan Choe, The Associated Press