US Markets

Stocks close higher, led by 1% rise in health care

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U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, helped by rising oil prices, and after the Fed released minutes from its June meeting.

Federal Reserve policymakers said it was prudent to wait for more data and the Brexit vote result before raising rates, and cited a slowdown in hiring as a reason to keep rates unchanged last month, according to meeting minutes released Wednesday afternoon. The non-farm payrolls report due Friday is the key data for the week.

"The jobs number really got under their skin," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. "They have questions about whether the recovery is slowing, so the only thing that's going to lift this uncertainty is this Friday's report."

The major U.S. indexes recovered opening losses to attempt gains ahead of the minutes' release.

Health care rose more than 1 percent to lead most S&P 500 sectors higher. Year-to-date, the sector is up 1.2 percent versus the S&P's 2.7 percent gain. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) closed nearly 2.4 percent higher.

U.S. crude settled up 1.78 percent or 83 cents, at $47.43 a barrel ahead of inventory data due in the next 24 hours. WTI fell more than 4.5 percent Tuesday.

"It's just a combination of everything (that happened) overnight just started to reverse," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield came off its record low of 1.321 percent to trade near 1.38 percent. The Japanese yen was near 101 against the U.S. dollar after earlier threatening to break below 100.

"It's safety over yield right now. People just want their money back and they don't necessarily care that they got much interest with it," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. "People get concerned, especially when you see yields at all-time lows."

Global bond yields hit new record lows this week. The German 10-year bund fell to negative 0.204 percent Wednesday, while the UK 10-year gilt dropped to 0.724. Italy, Japan, and Switzerland's government bond yields also hit new bottoms; Japan's yield curve turned almost entirely negative, with the exception of the 30-year note, yielding about 0.045 percent.

Other Treasury yields came off lows and tried for gains, with the last near 0.58 percent. The 30-year Treasury yield was last trading near 2.14 percent after earlier touching a fresh record low of 2.098 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed about 78 points higher with Home Depot having the greatest positive impact, while DuPont had the greatest negative impact. Earlier, the index fell 127 points.

The Nasdaq composite outperformed as shares of Facebook, and Apple climbed.

The Dow transports closed a touch lower after earlier falling more than 1.5 percent. J.B. Hunt led advancers, while United Continental was the greatest decliner.

The ISM non-manufacturing PMI came in at 56.5 for June versus 52.9 in May. Markit's U.S. services PMI showed marginal expansion at 51.4 in June, up fractionally from 51.3 in May.

European stocks were mostly lower, with the German DAX off more than 1.5 percent, tracking for a weekly decline of more than 4 percent.

The STOXX Europe 600 Banks index were about 2.5 percent lower, on pace for a weekly loss of more than 6.5 percent.

As of Wednesday's close, the major U.S. indexes were on pace for a weekly decline of less than 0.2 percent.

Henderson Global and Columbia Threadneedle became the latest firms to suspend dealings in U.K. property funds Wednesday.

"News like that makes people nervous," said Peter Coleman, head trader at Convergex. He noted he "wouldn't equate it to anything near to 2008."

Pound sterling traded near $1.293 after hitting a fresh 31-year low against the U.S. dollar overnight. The U.S. dollar index was a touch lower, with the euro near $1.11 and the yen around 101.3 yen versus the greenback.

"The question is what's going to happen when you can't just let the market cover up the real damage and the question is how is the real economy going to grow with all this uncertainty going on," said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital.

Earlier, a report showed the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in May to $41.1 billion from $37.4 billion the prior month.

Major U.S. Indexes

Overnight, the People's Bank of China set the official midpoint rate of the yuan against the dollar at 6.6857, 0.4 percent softer than the previous fix and the weakest since November 2010, according to Reuters.

Asian stocks closed mostly lower, with the Hang Seng 1.2 percent lower and the Nikkei 225 nearly 1.9 percent lower. The Shanghai composite closed about a third of a percent higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 78 points, or 0.44 percent, at 17,918.62, with Merck leading advancers and DuPont the greatest decliner.

The closed up 11.18 points, or 0.54 percent, at 2,099.73, with health care leading nearly all sectors higher.

The Nasdaq composite closed up 36.26 points, or 0.75 percent, at 4,859.16.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was lower near 15.1 after earlier rising above 17.

About two stocks advanced for every decliner on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 1.0 billion and a composite volume of 3.8 billion in the close.

Gold futures for August delivery settled up $8.40 at $1,367.10 an ounce.

On tap this week:


10 a.m. ISM nonmanufacturing

2 p.m. FOMC minutes


8:15 a.m. ADP payrolls

8:30 a.m. Initial claims


8:30 a.m. Employment report

3 p.m. Consumer credit

*Planner subject to change.