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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press photos A trader works on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The first trading session of 2018 opened strongly.

  • Back on the floor after the holiday weekend, traders saw technology, health care and energy stocks rise Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 1:00 am

Stocks start new year hot

Tech, health care sectors continue to see steady growth

MARLEY JAY | Associated Press

NEW YORK – Technology and health care companies jumped Tuesday as U.S. stocks started the new year the same way they spent the last one: rising steadily and setting records. Energy companies also climbed.

Asian markets rose after surveys in China and India showed continued manufacturing growth in the world's most populous countries. U.S. stocks followed suit as investors snapped up shares of companies that should benefit from faster economic growth, including technology, health care and materials companies, just as they did last year. The Nasdaq composite busted through another milestone as it closed above 7,000 points.

“We'll continue to see many of the themes from last year play out,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones.

She said the global economy should keep growing and businesses and consumers around the world will continue to spend more money. It helps that interest rates are low, and governments in areas that reduced their spending during the Great Recession are becoming more willing to spend.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22.18 points, or 0.8 percent, to a record 2,695.79. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 104.79 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,824.01. The Nasdaq composite jumped 103.51 points, or 1.5 percent, to 7,006.90. The Russell 2000 index, which consists of smaller company stocks, gained 14.50 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,550.51, also a new high.

The Nasdaq had its best opening day since 2013 as the big technology companies that dominated in 2017 got the new year off to a good start. Facebook rose $4.96, or 2.8 percent, to $181.42 and Apple climbed $3.03, or 1.8 percent, to $172.26. Chipmaker Nvidia climbed $5.85, or 3 percent, to $199.35.

Drug and medical device companies led the health care sector higher. Hepatitis C and HIV drug maker Gilead Sciences gained $2.46, or 3.4 percent, to $74.10. Abbott Laboratories, which sells medications, infant formula and medical devices, picked up $1.72, or 3 percent, to $58.79 and Baxter International gained $2.53, or 3.9 percent, to $67.17.

Retailers also rose. That included Amazon, which added $19.54, or 1.7 percent, to $1,189.01. Retailers that struggled last year, including big box and department stores, also fared well. Target rose $2.38, or 3.9 percent, to $67.63 while Kohl's picked up $2.12, or 3.9 percent, to $56.35. Early indications suggest shoppers had a busy holiday season and investors will look for confirmation of those reports in the weeks to come.