Tech, health care sustain stock market’s momentum in 2018 business ag gaston funeral home birmingham al


Energy companies jumped for the second day in a row as oil prices, already at two-and-a-half-year highs, rose again. One reason is that after a pipeline bombing in Libya last month and ongoing anti-government protests in Iran, investors are concerned that oil supplies will get interrupted.

"Something that’s coming back into the market which we’ve been missing over the last few years is this geopolitical risk premium," said Nick Koutsoftas, portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers. Investors didn’t worry that much about those risks in recent years because big stockpiles of oil had built up. Those stockpiles are shrinking now, which has helped oil prices but also made them more vulnerable to surprises.

The S&P 500 index rose 17.25 to close at 2,713.06. The Dow Jones industrial average added 98.67 to 24,922.68. The Nasdaq composite climbed 58.63 to 7,065.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 2.56 to 1,552.58. All four finished at record highs.

Heating oil and natural gas prices have also climbed as severe cold gripped much of the U.S. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $2.09 a gallon, and it’s up 12 cents since Dec. 22. Natural gas slid 5 cents to $3.01 per 1,000 cubic feet, and it’s up 34 cents over that time.

Intel slumped after British technology site The Register reported a security problem that affects Intel’s processors, and said fixing the problem could slow down computers that use them. Intel said it’s working to patch the problem and the average computer user won’t experience a significant slowdown as the flaw is fixed. It also said the problem is not limited to its products.

Dominion Energy agreed to buy Cayce-based SCANA in a deal that would expand the Richmond, Va., company’s business in the Carolinas. Dominion Energy is valuing the deal at about $7.9 billion plus $6.7 billion in debt. Scana soared $8.78, or 22.6 percent, to $47.65 and Dominion dropped $3.09, or 3.8 percent, to $77.19.

SCANA traded above $70 a share in June but plunged after it and partner Santee Cooper said they were abandoning construction of two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County. They blamed the project failure on the bankruptcy of contractor Westinghouse. The end of the project and SCANA’s rate hikes led to harsh criticism and multiple government investigations, and the CEOs of both SCANA and Santee Cooper stepped down.

Money transfer company MoneyGram International plunged $1.20, or 9 percent, to $12.11 after U.S. regulators blocked the sale of the company to Ant Financial Services Group. It’s not clear why the $1.2 billion deal was rejected by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews proposed foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies on national security grounds. Ant Financial is linked to Alibaba and its chairman, Jack Ma.

Consumer products company Spectrum Brands said it will try to sell its batteries and appliances businesses. Spectrum, which makes Rayovac and Kwikset, wants to concentrate on its other divisions: hardware and home improvement, global auto care, global pet supplies and home and garden. The stock climbed $9.58, or 8.8 percent, to $118.94.