Trader Joseph Lawler works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Early surge in stocks sends S&P 500 closer to record high

June 20, 2019 - 11:36 am

NEW YORK (AP) — An early surge on the stock market Thursday put the S&P 500 index within range of another record high.

The S&P 500 rose 0.6% as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern time and was slightly below the record close it reached April 30. The index has now erased most of its losses from May, when growing economic jitters prompted a 6.6% dive.

Technology stocks were the biggest gainers in a sign that investors are in a bullish mood and hungry for riskier holdings. Oracle rose 8.6% after it reported solid financial results. Cisco gained 1.8%.

Energy stocks made big gains on a 5.4% surge in oil prices. Oil spiked as tensions between the U.S. and Iran tightened, which raised fears that oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz could be compromised. Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it shot down a U.S. drone on Thursday over Iranian airspace. The drone shooting follows last week's attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.

Health care and industrial stocks also rose.

Utilities fell slightly as investors turned away from the safe-play sector. Financial stocks were the main losers as falling bond yields shoved banks lower. Bank of America fell 1.6% and PNC fell 2.2%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6%, or 170 points, to 26,674. Big gains for Boeing, 3M, and Home Depot helped drive the 30-stock index higher. The technology-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.5%.

The market has been moving higher all week as investors became more hopeful that the U.S. and China could eventually resolve their damaging trade war and that the Federal Reserve stands ready to stabilize economic growth. The leaders of the U.S. and China are meeting next on trade.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday reaffirmed its position that it is prepared to cut interest rates if trade conflicts or other factors threaten economic growth. It left its benchmark interest rate unchanged but investors are betting on at least one interest rate cut this year.

Cruise line operators were among the few losers in the early going after Carnival slashed its profit forecast for the year. It cited technical issues with its Vista ship. It also cited a ban on U.S. cruises to Cuban ports and an economic slowdown in Europe, which both have broader implications for the sector. Carnival sank 10.3%, Royal Caribbean fell 2.8% and Norwegian fell 2.9%.

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