- Associated Press - Friday, February 23, 2018

Technology and health care companies helped drive U.S. stocks broadly higher Friday, placing the market on course to finish a volatile week with a slight gain. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP led the gainers among technology stocks. Energy companies also rose along with crude oil prices. Bond yields receded from the four-year highs they reached earlier this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 35 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,739 as of 3:19 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 256 points, or 1 percent, to 25,219. The Nasdaq composite gained 110 points, or 1.5 percent, to 7,320. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 14 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,544.

Friday’s rally placed the major stock indexes on pace to finish a volatile week with gains.

THE QUOTE: “We’re value investors and we see the market right at fair value,” said Craig Callahan, president of ICON Advisers. “We’re at the mercy of people’s changing opinions day-to-day on inflation and the Fed, but over the long run, we would expect the market to emerge higher.”

TECH EARNS: Hewlett Packard Enterprise surged $1.68, or 10.2 percent, to $18.09 after it had a strong fiscal first quarter and raised its estimates for the rest of the year. The data center hardware company also said it will increase its quarterly dividend. Its former corporate sibling, printer and PC maker HP, also rose. Its stock gained 63 cents, or 3 percent, to $22.03 after its first-quarter earnings and revenue surpassed analyst expectations. Its forecasts for the rest of the year were also better than excepted.

IN GOOD HEALTH: Vertex Pharmaceuticals was among the big gainers in the health care sector. The stock climbed $7.29, or 4.6 percent, to $164.88.

BANK ON IT: Banks and other financial firms rose. Investment firm BlackRock gained $8.08, or 1.5 percent, to $547.61. CME Group, the parent company of the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges, added $2.89, or 1.8 percent, to $163.42.

A NEW AISLE: General Mills agreed to buy pet food maker Blue Buffalo in its first foray into pet food. The companies said General Mills will pay $40 a share, or $8 billion. Blue Buffalo climbed $5.88, or 17.2 percent, to $40. The company had about $1.3 billion in net sales last year and General Mills said it’s part of the steadily growing market for pet food. The Cheerios maker and many of its competitors have struggled as Americans cut back on purchases of processed foods. On Friday General Mills stock lost $2.04, or 3.7 percent, to $52.91.

DINING OUT: Craft beer and pizza chain BJ’s Restaurants vaulted $4.72, or 12.2 percent, to $48.43 after a strong quarter.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.92 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 78 cents, or 1.2 percent, to settle at $63.55 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 92 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $67.31 a barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil gained 2 cents to $1.97 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline added 4 cents to $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas was little changed at $2.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.70 yen from 106.64 yen. The euro dipped to $1.2299 from $1.2329.

METALS: Gold fell $2.40 to $1,330.30 an ounce. Silver dropped 10 cents to $16.48 an ounce. Copper slid 3 cents to $3.21 a pound.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX index edged 0.2 percent higher and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. London’s FTSE 100 slid 0.1 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1 percent and Seoul’s Kospi rose 1.5 percent.

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