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U.S. stock indexes mostly higher in early trade; oil falls

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 12, 2017

In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, people walk to work on Wall Street beneath a statue of George Washington, in New York. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
In this Oct. 8, 2014, file photo, people walk to work on Wall Street beneath a statue of George Washington, in New York. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
By Alex Veiga Associated Press

U.S. stocks edged mostly higher in early trading Tuesday as investors sized up the latest company earnings and deal news. Gains by banks and health care companies outweighed losses among technology companies. Energy stocks also declined as the price of crude oil headed lower.

Keeping score: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,662 as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 86 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,472. The Nasdaq slipped less than 1 point to 6,874. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,522. The S&P 500 and the Dow closed at all-time highs Monday.

Federal Reserve: Investors were looking ahead to Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve is expected to lift short-term interest rates by 0.25 percent. That would be the third interest rate hike by the central bank this year. While inflation has remained low, the central bank has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will have policy announcements on Thursday, but neither is expected to change rates, leaving the focus on their economic forecasts.

No deal: Cable TV and entertainment company Comcast rose 2.4 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported it was no longer in talks to buy parts of 21st Century Fox. Comcast picked up 92 cents to $39.36.

Betting on financials: Banks and other financial stocks accounted for many of the market’s gains. Charles Schwab rose $1, or 2 percent, to $51.72.

Ultra hip: Urban Outfitters gained 2.2 percent after the retailer issued a positive update on its fourth-quarter sales. The stock added 71 cents to $32.98.

Disappointing results: Casey’s General Stores slumped 8.2 percent after its second-quarter profit fell short of analysts’ estimates. The stock shed $9.94 to $111.31.

In a slide: Technology stocks notched among the biggest losses. Micron Technology slid 92 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $42.09.

Energy: Energy prices were headed lower. Benchmark U.S. crude declined 11 cents to $57.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard for oil, shed 13 cents to $64.56 per barrel in London.

Currencies: The dollar rose to 113.57 Japanese yen from 113.52 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1743 from $1.1786.

Bitcoin: Bitcoin futures were down $385, or 2.1 percent, to $18,150 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The price of an actual bitcoin has soared since it began the year below $1,000 and was at $17,055.88 in morning trading, according to Coindesk.

Bond yields: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.40 percent from 2.39 percent late Monday.

Markets overseas: Major stock indexes in Europe were mixed. Germany’s DAX was flat, while the CAC 40 of France gained 0.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.4 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong shed 0.6 percent. The S&P ASX 200 added 0.3 percent. India’s Sensex dropped 0.7 percent. Other regional markets were mostly lower.

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