U.S. Stocks Edge Higher

By Akane Otani Features Dow Jones Newswires

The S&P 500 edged higher Monday, as gains in shares of health-related companies offset declines in the energy sector.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 15 points, or 0.1%, to 21797. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.4%.

The stock market has been quiet in recent sessions, with trading volumes across exchanges owned by the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq hitting their lowest levels of the year Friday. Investors and analysts attributed the lull in action to the scarcity of major economic data and the winding down of the second-quarter earnings season.

Still, activity is expected to pick up in the coming week, as investors look toward economic reports including the latest estimates for the second-quarter gross domestic product, personal-consumption expenditures and the monthly jobs report.

So far this year, the data have largely suggested the global economy is on steady footing, something that should help stocks keep climbing as corporate profits grow, investors say.

"It feels like we're in a sweet spot for financial assets, where you have a synchronized global expansion while inflation remains low," said David Donabedian, chief investment officer at CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management. "There's a lot of focus on Washington, but we shouldn't forget that the strong economic backdrop is always the single most important backdrop for equity markets."

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Shares of health-related companies in the S&P 500 jumped 0.7% Monday, leading advances among the broad index's 11 sectors.

Gilead Sciences shares rose 2.7% after the biotechnology company said it agreed to pay about $11 billion to acquire Kite Pharma. Illumina and Biogen added about 2% apiece.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 fell with oil prices as investors struggled to gauge the fallout from Tropical Storm Harvey, which is expected to cut through the heart of U.S. oil infrastructure in Texas.

The S&P 500 energy sector fell 0.5%, with Anadarko Petroleum, Helmerich & Payne and Pioneer Natural Resources shares losing about 2% each. The sector is on course for its worst month since at least 2015, even after a number of oil companies reported stabilizing earnings.

Commodities prices swung as analysts warned that it will take some time to measure the full impact of Harvey's damage. U.S. crude fell 2.4% to $46.72 a barrel, while gasoline futures surged.

U.S. government bonds inched higher, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note recently at 2.166%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.169% on Friday. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.4% in a slow session of trade. Markets in the U.K. were closed in observance of a public holiday.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average ended down less than 0.1%, with shares of exporters weighed down by the stronger yen. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.9%, driven by advances in bank stocks.

William Wilkes contributed to this article.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 28, 2017 11:31 ET (15:31 GMT)