Technology companies push stocks higher, extend gains

U.S. stocks edged higher on Wall Street Tuesday, picking up where they left off before the long holiday weekend.

Technology stocks led the early gains. Microsoft rose 1.3% and Cisco rose 1.8%. A mix of consumer-focused and communications companies also pushed the market higher. Amazon and Home Depot rose, as did Facebook and Google’s parent, Alphabet.

Stocks closed higher on Friday to close a wobbly week of trading. Despite those gains, the market still posted its third weekly loss. U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

Trading has been choppy over the last several weeks as investors grapple with the possibility of a prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China. The nations escalated the dispute earlier this month by raising tariffs on each other.

The U.S. went even further and proposed a ban on technology sales to certain Chinese companies. That has added even more volatility to technology stocks that are already sensitive to the ups and downs of trade negotiations.

Utilities and consumer staples lagged the market as investors signaled more confidence in growth by focusing on riskier stock holdings.

But, bond prices rose and pushed down the yield on the 10 year Treasury to 2.28%, its lowest level since October 2017. That held back gains for banks and other financial companies that rely on higher yields to make more profit from interest on loans.

Tuesday started off mostly quiet for individual stocks with corporate earnings reports all but completed for the broad S&P 500 index. Payments processor Total System Services gained 7.7% after it agreed to be acquired by rival company Global Payments for $21.5 billion. SeaWorld surged 16.9% after it announced a stock buyback and increased investment from a hedge fund.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% as of 10 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108 points, or 0.4%, to 25,693. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6%.

PROCESSING GAINS: Total Systems Services jumped 7.4% following the announcement that the payments processor is being bought by Global Payments.

The stock deal is valued at $21.5 billion and it is the third major acquisition in the payment technology sector this year.

Traditional payment processors like Global Payments are consolidating as they compete with upstarts like PayPal and Square, which is led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

SLIPPERY SECURITY: First American Financial fell 7.7% because of a security lapse that exposed bank account numbers and other sensitive information.

The real estate title company confirmed the lapse on Friday.

A flaw in an internet application allowed anyone with a web browser to see the confidential data in 885 million files. If the 885 million records were harvested, it would rank among the biggest leaks of data on the internet.

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