US stocks move mostly higher in early trading; Aetna jumps on deal talk

MarketsAssociated Press

U.S. stocks edged mostly higher in early trading Tuesday, clawing back some of the ground they lost the day before. Consumer staples and health care stocks were among the biggest gainers.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,812 at 10:17 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added a point, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,085. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 5,029.

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SECTOR VIEW: Six of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 edged higher, with consumer staples leading the gainers. Industrials stocks declined.

WOOING AETNA: Shares in Aetna rose 4.8 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported that UnitedHealth Group approached the rival health insurer about a deal. Aetna added $5.57 to $126.62. UnitedHealth gained $3.10, or 2.7 percent, to $122.15.

HOME CONSTRUCTION: Homebuilder stocks fell broadly after the Commerce Department reported that home builders broke ground on fewer homes in May. Meritage Homes sank 76 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $43.41.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: European stocks were mixed as jitters mounted over whether Greece and its creditors can reach a bailout agreement that will keep the country from defaulting on its debts. France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 edged down 0.1 percent. Greece's main stock index sank 4.3 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent. Other Asian benchmarks, including Taiwan and Singapore, were also lower.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil edged up 24 cents to $59.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract hit a high for the year last Wednesday.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.34 percent from 2.36 percent late Monday.