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Tech companies lead US stocks higher as trade fears ease

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly higher Wednesday as global markets let go of some of their fears about the growing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Technology companies are making some of the largest gains. Twenty-First Century Fox is jumping after it agreed to a new deal with Disney, which will buy Fox’s entertainment businesses for more than $70 billion. Media companies are rallying as investors hope for more deals. Walgreens rose after it was added to the Dow Jones industrial average, where it will replace General Electric next week.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,768 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow was on track for its seventh loss in a row as the trade turbulence continued to hurt industrial and materials companies, which do a lot of businesses outside the U.S. The 30-stock index slipped 52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,647. The Nasdaq composite gained 56 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,782, which put it on track for a record high. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 11 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,705 after it closed at another record high Tuesday.

The S&P fell as much as 1.1 percent early Tuesday as trade tensions between the U.S. and China increased, but the benchmark index wound up with a loss of just 11 points, or 0.4 percent. While President Donald Trump threatened to put new tariffs on as much as $400 billion in imports from China and China threatened to retaliate, investors decided that many industries don’t face a major threat from the proposals and that smaller, more U.S.-focused companies are likely to keep doing well.

Both countries plan to put tariffs on about $50 billion in imports in early July, which still leaves them with several weeks to negotiate.

SEQUEL: Twenty-First Century Fox jumped again after it accepted a new offer from Disney that values Fox’s entertainment and international businesses at more than $70 billion in cash and stock. Fox accepted a $52.4 billion bid from Disney in December before Comcast offered to buy those businesses for $65 billion in cash. Some experts think Comcast will raise its offer again. Fox surged 7.1 percent to $47.87 while Disney added 0.7 percent to $106.87. Comcast held steady at $32.83.

Other media companies also rose. Viacom added 2.4 percent to $30.03 and Netflix jumped 2.5 percent to $415.15.

DOW AND OUT: General Electric is coming out of the Dow Jones industrial average after more than a century and it will be replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance on Tuesday. GE was part of the Dow when the index was created 1896 and it’s the last component that remains an independent publicly traded company.

GE is by far the least expensive Dow stock in terms of share price, which is how the Dow is weighted. GE slipped 1.2 percent to $12.79 Wednesday along as industrial companies traded lower. Walgreens jumped 4.3 percent to $67.40.

For years GE has been struggling in critical markets and selling off businesses. It’s also given some weak forecasts and early this year said the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the company over a $15 billion hit taken to cover miscalculations made within an insurance unit. Adjusted for inflation, GE was worth around $860 billion in mid-2000, but it’s worth $111 billion now, including a drop of more than 50 percent over the last 12 months.

BITTER TASTE: Starbucks sank 8.5 percent to $52.54 after it forecast weak sales growth in the latest quarter, and investors were concerned about its business in China. The company also said the controversy that followed the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store temporarily slowed its business.

DIDN’T SEE IT COMING: Oracle lost 7.3 percent to $42.89. The software maker had a solid fiscal fourth quarter, but investors were concerned about its forecasts for the current quarter.

ENERGY: Oil futures climbed ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting, where most experts think the group will increase production. As a result of that view, crude prices have dropped over the last few weeks. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1.1 percent to $65.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, was little changed at $75.09 a barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices inched lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.91 percent from 2.90 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 110.09 yen from 110.07 yen. The euro rose to $1.1582 from $1.1575.

OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 in Britain jumped 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX was up 0.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2 percent. After sharp losses the day before, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rebounded 1.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.8 percent.


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