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Stocks climb as stronger economic growth cheers investors

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are rising, with some of the largest gains going to technology and health care companies, banks, retailers and travel companies. The Commerce Department raised its estimate for economic growth and said the U.S. gross domestic product grew at its fastest pace in two years between April and June.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,459 as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 21,901. The Nasdaq composite gained 67 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,369 as technology companies rose for the third day in a row. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,390.

ECONOMY AND HIRING: The U.S. economy grew 3 percent in the second quarter, the fastest pace in two years. The Commerce Department raised its projection from last month, and it’s much better than the first quarter, when the U.S. gross domestic product grew 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, private businesses added 237,000 jobs in August with broad gains across several industries including construction, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality, according to a survey by ADP.

THE QUOTE: “For all the tough times we’ve had the last couple of weeks, the thing that’s kept the market afloat is the strong economic data,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management. He said investors will be looking for evidence of higher pay and rising inflation in economic reports over the next few days, and said stocks should keep rising as long as the economy remains in good shape and inflation doesn’t pick up.

LEADERS: Chipmaker Analog Devices advanced after it announced strong results in the third quarter along with a better-than-expected revenue forecast for the current period. Its stock jumped $3.86, or 4.9 percent, to $83.41. Microsoft gained $1.05, or 1.4 percent, to $74.10 and Facebook picked up $1.65, or 1 percent, to $169.70. Amazon rose $12.46, or 1.3 percent, to $966.52, and Bank of America climbed 45 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $23.91.

EARNINGS: Drone maker AeroVironment climbed $7.07, or 18 percent, to $46.42 after the company said product sales almost doubled in the fiscal first quarter. Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and other drinks, raised its profit forecast and posted strong first-quarter results. The shares rose $1.67, or 3.3 percent, to $52.87.

H&R Block lost $2.25, or 7.7 percent, to $26.98 after it said it isn’t planning any major cost cuts in its new fiscal year, unlike the year before.

BONDS: Investors’ concerns about tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to ease, and bond prices inched lower after a big jump the day before. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.14 percent from 2.13 percent.

STORM DAMAGE: Energy companies continued to fall as the Gulf region was inundated with rain by Harvey, which has knocked out significant oil drilling and refining capacity. On Tuesday the largest oil refinery in the U.S. was shut down and the operator of a major pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast said it was running at a reduced rate.

The tropical storm has dumped a record amount of rain on the Gulf Coast. It made landfall again in Louisiana overnight. Authorities say at least 20 people have died in the storm and 13,000 have been rescued.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 48 cents, or 1 percent, to $45.96 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.14, or 2.2 percent, to $50.86 a barrel in London. The price of wholesale gasoline rose another 10 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $1.88 a gallon.

CANCER TREATMENTS: The Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment that genetically engineers patients’ own blood cells to seek and destroy childhood leukemia. The drug, Kymriah, is made by Novartis, and several other companies are working on similar treatments. They are called CAR-T therapies, and they are being developed for blood cancers and maybe other tumors, too.

The approval wasn’t a surprise to investors, and Novartis stock dipped 82 cents, or 1 percent, to $82.80. Gilead Sciences rallied, however. Earlier this week the company agreed to buy CAR-T drug developer Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion. Its stock gained $4.66, or 6.2 percent, to $80.40. Juno Therapeutics, which is studying a similar treatment, lost $3.75, or 8.5 percent, to $40.07.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Heating oil added 1 cent to $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas lost 4 cents to $2.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold fell $4.80 to $1,314.10 an ounce. Silver dipped 2 cents to $17.40 an ounce. Copper lost 2 cents to $3.06 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.30 yen from 109.71 yen. The euro declined to $1.1903 from $1.1992.

OVERSEAS: European stocks bounced back after several days of losses. Germany’s DAX and the French CAC 40 both rose 0.5 percent and FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.4 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

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