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This July 16, 2013, file photo, shows a Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange. Global stock markets started the new trading week strongly Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, as investors appeared to put last week's jitters behind them as they awaited the outcome of the latest policy meetings of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan later this week. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

US stocks mostly higher as banks rise before Fed meeting

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly higher in indecisive trading Monday afternoon. Banks are gaining as investors wait for the Federal Reserve to meet this week, while health care companies take small losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,156 as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,143. The Nasdaq composite lost 1 point to 5,243.

Stocks have traded in a wide range. The Dow rose as much as 131 points in morning trading and fell as much as 30 points in the afternoon.

The Federal Reserve will meet Tuesday and announce its latest decision on interest rates the following day. Banks got a boost as some investors hoped that interest rates will rise, which would allow banks to make more money from lending. JPMorgan Chase rose 55 cents to $66.37 and Bank of America rose 12 cents to $15.61.

CENTRAL BANKS: Russ Koesterich, an investor with BlackRock’s Global Allocation Fund, said investors don’t expect the Fed to raise interest rates. However the Bank of Japan is also meeting this week, and Koesterich said investors aren’t sure how Japan’s central bank will act.

“They could decide to introduce more stimulus, but it could take a lot of different forms,” he said. “One of the questions … is not only what will they do, but what would the market like to see?”

JACKPOT: Isle of Capri Casinos agreed to be bought by Eldorado Resorts for $23 per share, or $950 million in cash and stock. Combined, the companies own 21 casinos and race tracks. Isle of Capri stock jumped $5.11, or 30.2 percent, to $22.04 while Eldorado Resorts stock lost 30 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $13.95.

SAREPTA SURGING: Sarepta Therapeutics soared $23,11, or 82.1 percent, to $51.26 after the Food and Drug Administration granted tentative approval to its drug Exondys 51, a treatment for a type of muscular dystrophy. The drug treats Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare and deadly inherited disease that causes muscle weakness and eventually the loss of all basic movement. It usually causes death by age 25.

The FDA had hesitated to approve the drug because advisers said there was little evidence it worked. Its approval is based on a study of only 12 patients, and the FDA is ordering Sarepta to run a larger study.

TECH DEALS: Information technology products distributor Tech Data jumped after it said it will buy the technology solutions business of Avnet for $2.6 billion in cash and stock. Tech Data says the deal will give it operations in 35 countries. Its stock rose $14.51, or 209. Percent, to $83.85 and Avnet gained $2.67, or 6.8 percent, to $41.88.

Meanwhile, network control company Infoblox agreed to be bought by Vista Equity Partners for $26.50 per share, or $1.51 billion. It surged $3.45, or 15.1 percent, to $26.28.

POWERED DOWN: Despite those moves, technology companies gave up an early gain and lagged the market. Apple, which surged last week and reached its highest price this year, lost $1.05 to $113.87 and Intel fell 43 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $37.24.

Health care stocks also lagged the market. Merck fell 77 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $61.51 after rival Sanofi said it sued Merck and said it infringed on patents protection Sanofi’s insulin drug Lantus. Eye drug maker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals fell $5.22, or 1.3 percent, to $403.41.

SICK DAY: Health website operator WebMD slumped after it said CEO David Schlanger is leaving the company by mutual agreement. Schlanger is being replaced by President Steven Zatz, who is in charge of WebMD’s advertising and sponsorship business. WebMD fell $3.18, or 6.1 percent, to $48.79 and it is down 27 percent since May 25.

STEP ON THE GAS: General Motors gained 82 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $31.79 after an analyst said auto sales, which are at record highs, should remain strong for several years. Analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley raised his rating on GM to “Overweight” and raised his price target to $37 a share from $29.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 27 cents to $43.30 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 18 cents to $45.95 a barrel in London.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline lost 4 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $1.42 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.39 a gallon. Natural gas retreated 1 cent to $2.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold rose $7.60 to $1,317.80 an ounce. Silver added 43 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.29 an ounce. Copper remained at $2.16 a pound.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.70 percent from 1.69 percent. The dollar fell to 101.81 yen from 102.42 yen. The euro rose to $1.1178 from $1.1151.

OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares climbed 1.5 percent and the CAC-40 in France rose 1.4 percent. Germany’s DAX was 1 percent higher. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent. Trading in Japan was closed for a holiday. Australia’s stock market suspended trading after a couple of hours due to technical glitches. The S&P/ASX 200 finished little changed.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

 

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