Financial markets moved higher in afternoon trading Tuesday, with medical equipment and pharmaceutical stocks among the biggest gainers. A positive outlook from homebuilders and encouraging news from Japan and Germany also helped lift markets. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index were on pace for another record-high close.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index added 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,053 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow rose 57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,705. The Nasdaq composite gained 35 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,706.
THE QUOTE: “The broad equity market is in holiday mode,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “I don’t see the market moving meaningfully higher or lower in the near term until we get greater visibility on what consumers are going to do in the holiday season.”
SECTOR VIEW: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 notched gains, led by health care stocks. The sector is up 23 percent this year. Telecommunications stocks dropped the most.
HAPPY PILL: Pharmaceutical giant Actavis vaulted 7.7 percent higher a day after it agreed to buy Botox-maker Allergan for $66 billion. Actavis rose $19.04 to $266.98.
HEALTHY GAINS: Medical device maker Medtronic was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Medtronic added $2.61, or 3.8 percent, to $71.80.
TABLET PLAY: Nokia, which sold its ailing handsets business to Microsoft earlier this year, plans to launch a tablet computer next year that will run on the Android operating system. Shares in the technology and equipment company rose 29 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $7.96.
STAR POWER: Investors bid up shares in a couple of solar energy companies. SunEdison surged 26.5 percent on news the company and subsidiary TerraForm are buying wind energy company First Wind for more than $1.9 billion. SunEdison gained $4.41 to $21.02. Solar power products company JA Solar jumped 7.8 percent after it reported better-than-expected quarterly financial results. The stock added 61 cents to $8.41.
EARNINGS MISSES: Home Depot and Urban Outfitters declined after the companies’ latest quarterly earnings missed analysts’ forecasts. Home Depot fell $1.44, or 1.5 percent, to $96.59. Urban Outfitters shed $2.49, or 8.1 percent, to $28.34.
RETAIL SLUMP: Several other retailers declined in midday trading. TJX, which operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other retail chains, slid 87 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $60.67. Best Buy shed 34 cents, or 1 percent, to $34.95. Staples slipped 19 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $12.78.
BUILDING CONFIDENCE: A measure of U.S. homebuilders’ confidence in the housing market rebounded in November as both sales expectations and buyer traffic improved. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index rose to 58 this month, up from 54 in October. That puts the index just short of September’s reading of 59, which was the highest level since November 2005, shortly before the housing bubble burst.
EUROPEAN MARKETS: Markets rallied in Europe as Germany’s ZEW measure of investor sentiment showed an improvement in November after 10 months of declines. Germany’s DAX rose 1.6 percent, while the CAC-40 in France gained 0.9 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.3 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index rose 2.2 percent amid expectations, later confirmed, that Japan’s government will delay a sales tax hike that was planned for next year. Elsewhere in Asia, Seoul’s Kospi added 1.2 percent, the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.6 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined by 1.1 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.04 to $74.60 a barrel in New York.
BONDS: The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped to 2.32 percent from 2.34 percent late Monday.