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VOL. 40 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 11, 2016

US stocks mostly higher as gold and silver prices surge

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are mostly higher in Thursday morning trading. Materials companies are rising as the price of gold and silver jump, while energy companies are up with the price of oil. Drug company stocks continue to tumble, pulling health care companies lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,405 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained six points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,032. The Nasdaq composite lost eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,756.

METALS SHINE: The price of gold jumped $37, or 3 percent, to $1,266.80 an ounce and silver climbed 79 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $16.01 an ounce. Silver is trading at its highest prices since October while gold is at its highest price in about a year.

ON TIME: Package delivery company FedEx rose after it reported strong holiday-season sales, helped by continued growth in online shopping. FedEx also raised its projections for the year. The stock gained $15.51, or 10.8 percent, to $159.78.

BURNED: Williams-Sonoma lost $3.27, or 5.5 percent, to $56.19 after the seller of cookware and home furnishings disclosed disappointing fourth-quarter results and gave a disappointing outlook for 2016.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.31, or 3.4 percent, to $39.77 a barrel in New York. U.S. crude is now slightly higher than it was at the start of the year. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose 85 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $41.18 a barrel in London. Brent crude has risen 10.5 percent this year. Still, oil prices are far lower they have been for most of the last decade.

LINGERING SYMPTOMS: Health care stocks continued to slump, as they have all week. Investors are fearful that it will get harder for drug companies to raise their prices and boost their profits and revenues. Drugmaker Mallinckrodt lost $3.63, or 6.5 percent, to $52.06 and generic drugmaker Mylan gave up $1.99, or 4.3 percent, to $44.41. The Nasdaq biotech index has dropped more than 7 percent this week, and the broader S&P 500 health care index is down almost 4 percent.

BROKEN CIRCUIT: Electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit lost $2.14, or 9.7 percent, to $19.82 after it posted weaker-than-expected results in the fourth quarter and its guidance was also beneath expectations.

SEAWORLD CRUISES: SeaWorld Entertainment said it will immediately stop breeding orcas after years of controversy over keeping the whales in captivity. The move will phase the animals out of its theme parks. The stock gained 91 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $18.03.

NOT SO SWEET: Mondelez International fell 67 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $41.05 after Pershing Square, the hedge fund run by investor Bill Ackman, said it sold 20 million shares. Pershing Square remains a major shareholder in Mondelez, which makes products including Oreo cookies, Cadbury chocolates and Trident gum.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS RISE: The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, but they remain at levels consistent with a healthy job market.

FED FALLOUT: Stocks turned higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and suggested it will go slower in raising rates later this year. That decision weakened the dollar. That's giving industrial companies a boost on Thursday because it makes their products less expensive in foreign markets.

The euro rose to $1.1302 from $1.1204. The dollar fell to 111.48 yen from 112.68 yen.

Glass container maker Owens-Illinois rose 99 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $15.97. Air Products and Chemicals, which sells gases for industrial, medical and other uses, gained $3.75, or 2.8 percent, to $139.81.

Bond prices have also risen, dampening their yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.90 percent after it fell to 1.91 percent on Wednesday.

OVERSEAS: German's DAX gave up 1.2 percent and the CAC-40 in France lost 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 inched up 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 0.2 percent lower as the dollar fell. A weaker dollar would be bad news for Japanese exporters. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.2 percent. Shanghai's composite index came back from early losses, gaining 1.2 percent. South Korea's KOSPI added 0.7 percent.

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