U.S. stocks are broadly higher in afternoon trading as industrial stocks recover some of the big losses they took over the last month and more in Tuesday’s Stock Market Update. Companies including CVS Health are rising after releasing strong third-quarter reports. Stocks have settled down in the last few days as traders wait for results from the midterm elections in the U.S.
STOCK MARKET UPDATE
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 17 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,755 at closing time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 175 points, or 0.7 percent, to 25,637. The Nasdaq composite picked up 47 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,375. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 3 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,551.
Stocks dropped in October and recovered a sliver of their gains during a three-day rally last week. Since then they’ve made smaller moves ahead of the elections. Control of the House of Representatives and Senate are up for grabs and 36 governorships are being contested. Investors will be watching to see how the vote might influence U.S. trade, economic and security policies.
Stocks tend to fall before midterm elections and then rally once the voting is over. The S&P 500 has generated an average price return of 16.7 percent in the 12 months after midterm elections since 1946, according to CFRA.
THE QUOTE: Alicia Levine, chief market strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, said some of the most dramatic reactions to the elections might be seen in the health care sector, as Republicans could make another attempt to eliminate the 2010 Affordable care Act if they keep control of the House and Senate.
“If the Democrats take the House, the Affordable Care Act is not under threat of being repealed,” she said, which could help health insurers and hospitals. “If we see the Democrats take the governors houses, you could also see the expansion of Medicaid.”
A Democratic House majority might work with the administration to try to reduce drug prices, and would take a more lenient approach on food stamp benefits. That could help big box stores and grocery chains, which get a lot of revenue from those programs.
If Republicans keep control of the House, Levine said, they might index capital gains taxes to inflation, which would effectively cut those taxes. While that could boost the economy, it would also encourage the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates at a faster pace, and investors are already concerned that rates could rise too fast.
CVS HAS THE RECEIPTS: Drugstore and pharmacy benefits manager CVS Health rose 4.8 percent to $77.21 after its results topped Wall Street forecasts in the third quarter. It was helped by a large bump in prescriptions. CVS also said it expects to complete its purchase of health insurer Aetna before the Thanksgiving holiday.
DEALS SWIRLING: Symantec rallied after the security software company announced two purchases. Symantec said it bought business technology company Javelin and mobile security company Appthority. It didn’t disclose terms of either deal. Shares of Symantec rose further after Reuters reported that private equity firm Thoma Bravo is interested in buying the company. The stock was up 12 percent at $22.43 in afternoon trading.
MATERIALS WORLD: Materials companies jumped after results from fertilizer maker Mosaic and granite, limestone, sand and gravel seller Martin Marietta Materials. Mosaic rose 9.9 percent to $35.41 after it raised its annual profit forecast, and Martin Marietta climbed 7 percent to $187.13. Construction materials company Vulcan gained 3.4 percent to $103.97.
Industrial companies also rose. Caterpillar climbed 2.2 percent to $129.23 and Boeing added 1 percent to $365.64.
ENERGY: Oil prices continued to slip after the U.S. said it would allow a group of allies to continue buying oil from Iran as long as they continued to try to reduce their imports from that nation. The U.S. reinstated sanctions on Iran this month after withdrawing from an international agreement intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, and analysts feared that oil prices would jump as supplies tightened.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 1.4 percent to $62.21 a barrel in New York. In early October it traded above $76 a barrel. Brent crude dipped 1.4 percent to $72.13 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.69 a gallon and heating oil was also little changed at $2.19 a gallon. Natural gas remained at $3.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.
BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.21 percent from 3.19 percent.
METALS: Gold shed 0.5 percent to $1,226.30 an ounce. Silver lost 1 percent to $14.50 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 percent to $2.73 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.40 yen from 113.21 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1415 from $1.1418.
OVERSEAS STOCK MARKET UPDATE: Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.9 percent as leaders from Britain and the European Union remained deadlocked over the issue of Ireland’s borders, a critical part of Britain’s impending departure from the EU. The two sides are trying to find a way to make sure there are no customs posts or other checks on the border between Ireland, which is part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which will leave the group along with the rest of the U.K.
In France, the CAC 40 fell 0.5 percent. Germany’s DAX dipped 0.1 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 percent and the Kospi in South Korea added 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bounced gained 0.7 percent.