Banks, energy companies lead stocks higher on Wall Street

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Banks and energy companies helped lead stocks higher in afternoon trading Wednesday, lifting the benchmark S&P 500 to a gain for the week.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.5% as of 12:38 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 157 points, or 0.5%, to 34,734 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2%.

The gains were broad, with more than 70% of stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 rising. Technology companies and health care stocks also made solid gains, while companies that rely on direct consumer spending, including travel-related businesses, fell.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.32% from 1.27% late Tuesday. Banks benefitted from the higher yields, which allow them to charge more lucrative interest on loans. Citigroup rose 1.9% and Capital One rose 2.6%.

Oil prices rose more than 3% and natural gas prices rose 2.5% as the oil and gas industry continues to sort through the damage caused by hurricane season in the Gulf. Disruptions have been more pronounced than originally expected, and there’s been some oil spills from some refineries.

ExxonMobil was up more than 2.7%, which was helping lift the blue chips more than the rest of the market. Occidental Petroleum was up more than 5% and Marathon Oil was up more than 6%.

Casino stocks were falling following reports of a possible crackdown on the industry by Chinese officials in Macau, the former Portuguese colony and gambling center. MGM Resorts was down 3.8% and Wynn Resorts was down 7.4%.

Investors have been navigating a choppy market as they try to determine how rising cases of COVID-19 because of the highly contagious delta variant will impact economic growth. The employment market has been slow to recover and consumer spending has been tempered in recent months.

Wall Street will get get more information on jobs and consumer spending on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment benefits and the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August.

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