Stocks edge higher; S&P 500 heads for another week of gains

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2019, file photo Gordon Charlop, center, and Christian Bader work at the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 20. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading on Friday as most sectors of the market posted small gains.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,014 and is within 12 points of all-time high. The index is headed for a fourth straight weekly gain, even after some volatility during the week caused by volatile oil prices and the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate cut.

Health care and technology stocks are leading the gains. Big pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Merck were among the biggest winners. Tech giant Apple also made solid gains.

Bank stocks rose as bond yields remained stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained at 1.77% from late Thursday.

Utilities and consumer product makers lagged the market as investors cautiously shifted money to more high growth holdings.

A lack of economic data and corporate news is capping off an otherwise busy week. On Monday, oil prices spiked more than 14% after a key Saudi Arabian oil processing facility was attacked. Oil prices retreated after the Saudi government said production could be restored by the end of the month, although they're still up about 7% for the week.

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the second time this year as it tries to shore up economic growth amid a lingering trade war between the U.S. and China and weak economic growth overseas. The central bank left open the possibility of additional rate cuts if the economy weakens.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 0.3% as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84 points, or 0.3%, to 27,178. The Nasdaq rose 0.1%.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe made broad gains as investors continue their close watch on Britain's upcoming exit from the European Union. Negotiators were meeting Friday in search of a deal that would allow Britain to leave the trading bloc without prompting economic chaos. Trade and other issues will be impacted by the departure.

Asian stocks were mostly higher, though Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped. Stocks in India surged after the government there announced plans to cut corporate taxes in an effort to bolster the economy. India's economy, the world's 6th largest, was booming until recently but it has slowed in recent months, with growth in manufacturing plunging to 0.6% in the last quarter from 12% a year earlier.

ENERGIZED: McDermott International surged 60% after the energy industry contractor said it is considering selling its Lummus Technology business, which builds oil platforms and other structures. The sale consideration follows reports that the company hired an outside adviser to help restructure.

CFO EXIT: Xilinx fell 5.9% as its chief financial officer, Lorenzo Flores, leaves the company for Toshiba Memory Holdings, where he will be vice chairman. Flores will stay at Xilinx through its second quarter financial report.

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