Stocks are rising Wednesday morning as gains in health care and media companies put major indexes on track to set more records. Drugmaker Vertex Pharmaceuticals is surging on positive results from potential treatments for cystic fibrosis. Morgan Stanley is rising after the investment bank’s trading desks had a good second quarter. Cable channel operators Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications are jumping following a report that they could combine.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,467 as of 10:03 a.m. Wednesday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average added 27 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,601. The Nasdaq composite gained 26 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,370. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 9 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,370. All four indexes have set record highs within the last week.
VERTEX AT THE CENTER: Vertex Pharmaceuticals climbed after it reported strong results from studies of drug regimens that are intended to help hard-to-treat forms of cystic fibrosis. Vertex soared $33.32, or 25.2 percent, to $165.48. That followed a 2.3 percent gain Tuesday after regulators approved a breast cancer treatment the company developed. Vertex’s stock has more than doubled this year and it is trading at all-time highs.
Other health care companies also traded higher. Drugmaker Regeneron gained $9.94, or 2 percent, to $507.57 while health insurers bounced back. UnitedHealth added $2.11, or 1.1 percent, to $188.96 and Cigna picked up $1.65, or 1 percent, to $173.75. Insurers mostly fell Tuesday after the Republican-backed health care bill failed in the Senate.
TRADE WINS: Morgan Stanley climbed after the investment bank said its trading businesses did well during the second quarter, a contrast to rival banks which reported poor trading results as market conditions were quiet last quarter. Morgan Stanley rose $1.34, or 3 percent, to $46.48. Other banks also gained. U.S. Bancorp climbed 85 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $52.48 and Bank of America advanced 23 cents to $24.13.
TV TIE-UP: Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after The Wall Street Journal reported that the two cable network companies are in talks to combine. Scripps, which owns HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, climbed $11.36, or 17 percent, to $78.40. Discovery Communications, which runs TLC and Animal Planet, gained $1.47, or 5.6 percent, to $27.52.
DASH OF HOT SAUCE: Spice maker McCormick agreed to buy RB Foods, the food division of Reckitt Benckiser, for $4.2 billion. That will give the company brands including French’s mustard and Frank’s RedHot. McCormick lost $5.02, or 5.2 percent, to $92.12. Other food companies traded higher. Campbell Soup rose $1.22, or 2.4 percent, to $52.21 and Conagra Brands added 50 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $33.82.
ANY IDEAS, WATSON? IBM posted weaker sales than analysts expected, and its stock dropped $6.27, or 5.1 percent, to $147.73.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 29 cents to $46.69 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, gained 40 cents to $49.24 per barrel in London.
BONDS: Bond prices held steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.26 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 111.64 yen from 111.98 yen. The euro fell to $1.1523 from $1.1563.
OVERSEAS: In Britain the FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX added 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index edged up 0.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.6 percent. The South Korean Kospi added 0.2 percent.