Tech firms and banks help US stocks recover losses

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A rally for technology companies helped US stocks recover some of their recent losses on Thursday, but trading remained uneven as investors tried to figure out if the tensions between the US and other nations will spill over into a trade war.

Technology companies and banks were responsible for the bulk of the gains.

Amazon surged and shook investors in two separate industries.

The online retailer said it is buying online pharmacy PillPack, which led to sharp losses for drugstores and companies that distribute prescription medications to pharmacies.

Amazon also announced that it is launching its own delivery van business, which hurt UPS and FedEx.

US crude oil rose to its highest price since November 2014.

Stocks started the day at their lowest levels in almost a month.

Contradictory reports from US officials about trade policy have led the market to lurch between gains and losses, sometimes by the hour.

“What’s happening is that the market is watching the president and his team and the president is watching the markets,” said Marina Severinovsky, an investment strategist at Schroders.

Ms Severinovsky said the Trump administration does not want to derail the economy or the stock market and is sensitive to the way investors react to the ongoing trade disputes.

Lately they have sent stocks lower, but if the market rallies in response to some strong second-quarter reports next month, she said the Trump team might feel encouraged to take tougher positions in trade talks.

The S&P 500 index added 16.68 points, or 0.6%, to 2716.31.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 98.46 points, or 0.4%, to 24216.05.

The Nasdaq composite gained 58.60 points, or 0.8%, to 7503.68.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 4.56 points, or 0.3%, to 1645.02.

Amazon shook up multiple industries on Thursday after it said it was buying online pharmacy PillPack, which offers pre-sorted dose packaging and home delivery.

Investors expected Amazon to use its muscle to reduce costs and drug prices, and that led to sharp losses for drugstores, pharmacy benefits managers and companies that distribute medications.

Amazon also announced a new programme under which contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver Amazon packages, meaning Amazon will have new ways to deliver products without relying on companies such as UPS and FedEx.

UPS lost 2.3% to 105.88 dollars and FedEx declined 1.3% to 226.67 dollars.

Benchmark US crude continued to surge and gained 0.9% to 73.45 dollars a barrel in New York.

It is at its highest price since November 2014.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 0.3% to 77.85 dollars a barrel in London.

Germany’s Dax was down 1.4%, France’s CAC 40 shed 1%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index remained almost flat and South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5%.

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