Banks are leading the stock market higher in afternoon trading Monday as investors anticipate that the Federal Reserve is moving closer to raising interest rates this year from their historically low levels. That could help banks by making lending more profitable. Herbalife rose after activist investor Carl Icahn, the company’s largest shareholder, said he has increased his stake. The market is coming off of three days of losses.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 105 points, or 0.6 percent, to 18,501 as of 2:41 p.m. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,181. The Nasdaq edged up 20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,239.
RATE RELIEF: Banks rose more than the rest of the market as traders anticipated that rates could move higher in the coming months. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told a conference last week that the case for raising rates was strengthening given improvements in the economy. Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, rose $1.15, or 2.4 percent, to $49.66 and JPMorgan Chase gained 78 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $67. Banks are still one of the worst-performing sectors in the market over the past year.
A GOOD THING? Raising interest rates from their rock-bottom levels, where they have been since the 2008 financial crisis, could be a good thing not only for markets but for savers, says Rob Lutts, chief investment officer of Cabot Wealth Management in Salem, Mass.
“We’re running out of excuses not to raise interest rates,” Lutts said. “We’re the wealthiest economy on the planet, and everybody who has a bank account is earning virtually zero on those balances today. There’s a lot of spending power that may be released in the economy” if savers earn more on their bank accounts, Lutts said.
STILL A BELIEVER: Herbalife added $2.36, or 3.9 percent, to $62.80 after Icahn said late Friday he had bought an additional 2.3 million shares in the supplements and weight-loss products company, and that he never gave an order to sell his $1 billion stake. A Wall Street Journal report earlier Friday said that the investment bank Jefferies had been looking for buyers for Icahn’s position.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent and Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent. The London Stock Exchange was closed for a summer bank holiday. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.3 percent South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.4 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 66 cents to $46.98 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, lost 66 cents to $49.26 a barrel.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.56 percent from 1.63 percent. The dollar rose to 102.30 yen from 101.86 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.1170 from $1.1183.
METALS: Precious and industrial metals futures closed mostly higher. Gold edged up $1.20 to $1,327.10 an ounce, silver gained 11 cents to $18.86 an ounce and copper edged down less than a penny to $2.08 a pound.