Tech, health stocks drive records

New York

U.S. stocks continued to climb Wednesday, led by technology, health care and energy companies. Media companies also rose as stock indexes set record highs.

The technology part of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index finally broke the record it set in March 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst. Energy companies rose with the price of oil as U.S. energy stockpiles continued to shrink. Cable network companies Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after the Wall Street Journal reported that they are in talks to combine.

Stocks have been setting records for most of this year, and over the last few months they’ve gotten a boost from a recovery in corporate profits.

“Earnings are coming in better than expected so far,” said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist for BMO Global Asset Management. “Technology in particular has come in very strong.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 13.22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,473.83. Despite a sharp drop from IBM, the Dow Jones industrial average added 66.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,640.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 40.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,385.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 14.16 points, or 1 percent, to 1,441.77. All four indexes closed at record highs.

The S&P 500 technology index finally surpassed its peak from late March 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom. That index came close to an all-time high in early June, but after that technology companies went into a swoon that lasted about a month. Their recovery over the last two weeks has helped the Nasdaq composite pull off a rally as well.

Apple picked up 94 cents to $151.02 and Facebook advanced $1.28 to $164.14 while Cisco Systems rose 39 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $31.90.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals climbed after it reported strong results from studies of drug regimens that are intended to help hard-to-treat forms of cystic fibrosis. Vertex soared $27.53, or 20.8 percent, to $159.69. That followed a 2.3 percent gain Tuesday after regulators approved a breast cancer treatment the company developed. Vertex’s stock has more than doubled this year and it is trading at all-time highs.

Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after the Wall Street Journal reported that the two cable network companies are in talks to combine. Scripps, which owns HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, climbed $9.87, or 14.7 percent, to $76.89. Discovery Communications, which runs TLC and Animal Planet, gained $1.13, or 4.3 percent, to $27.18.


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