Stocks edge higher as oil price gains boost energy companies

U.S. stocks are mostly higher Thursday morning as gains for energy companies have the market on track for its fifth increase in a row. The price of crude oil rose about 1 per cent. Industrial companies and retailers also edged higher. Packaged food company J.M. Smucker dropped after issuing a weak quarterly report and a disappointing forecast for the year.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,778 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average 103 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 25,250. The Nasdaq composite lost 1 point to 7,688. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks added 2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,678.

JAMMED UP: Smucker’s profit and sales fell short of analyst estimates, as did the company’s forecasts for the new fiscal year. The maker of jams, jellies and other foods said it is facing difficulties including higher raw materials and freight costs and rising interest rates. The stock lost 7 per cent to $99.31.

TRADE DEAL: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. government has reached a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE that includes a $1 billion fine, monitoring and leadership changes. ZTE has already paid about $1 billion for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. In April the department blocked ZTE from importing any U.S. components for seven years, which threatened to put the company out of business.

The Wall Street Journal said that with the ZTE matter settled, China’s government will likely approve a deal for Qualcomm to buy NXP Semiconductors. Qualcomm added 2.4 per cent to $61.25 and NXP rose 6.5 per cent to $121.96.

IT’S ON LIKE CONN’S: Retailer Conn’s soared 23 per cent to $31.50 after its first quarter was far better than Wall Street expected. It said an important sales measurement improved in April for the first time in two years.

ALLERGAN ACTIVISM?: Allergan jumped 3.7 per cent to $161.13 after Bloomberg News reported that investor Carl Icahn bought a small stake in the Botox maker and could join other activist investors who are pushing the company to make bigger changes.

FORTIVE BID: Industrial conglomerate Fortive rose 3 per cent to $77.25 after it offered to pay $2.7 billion for Johnson & Johnson’s sterilization products division. Johnson & Johnson lost 0.2 per cent to $122.49.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stayed at 2.97 per cent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110 yen from 110.19 yen. The euro rose to $1.1811 from $1.1768 after a European Central Bank board member said policymakers will discuss ending the bank’s bond-purchasing stimulus program.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1 per cent to $65.36 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 1.2 per cent to $76.26 per barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 fell 0.2 per cent and Germany’s DAX lost 0.2 per cent as well. Britain’sFTSE 100 rose 0.1 per cent after London’s stock exchange opened one hour late because of a technical problem.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 0.9 per cent while the Kospi in South Korea finished up 0.7 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.8 per cent.

This article provided by NewsEdge.