U.S. stock indexes extend rally to a 3rd day

Companies that make packaged foods and other consumer goods led a broad rise in U.S. stocks Thursday afternoon, extending a rally into a third day. Investors also continued to drive U.S. bond prices higher, a sign that some traders remain cautious about the possible ramifications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average gained 208 points, or 1.2 percent, to 17,903 at 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 23 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,094. The Nasdaq composite added 46 points, or 1 percent, to 4,825.

NETWORKING: Cable channel Starz soared 11 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Lions Gate Entertainment, which owns the “Orange Is The New Black” Netflix series and the “Hunger Games” movies. Starz jumped $3.19 to $31.44. Lions Gate rose 74 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $21.69.

CHOCOLATE FIX: Hershey surged 15.2 percent following a published report that snack company Mondelez has made an overture to acquire the candy maker. Hershey was the biggest riser in the S&P 500 index, adding $14.73 to $111.87 before trading was halted. Mondelez gained $2.04, or 4.8 percent, to $45.01.

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FOOD MAKERS: Several packaged food companies moved higher. General Mills rose $3.63, or 5.4 percent, to $71.49, while Campbell Soup gained $3.26, or 5.2 percent, to $66.10. Kellog jumped $4.46, or 5.8 percent, to $82.03.

BOOST FOR BANKS: Bank stocks rose broadly after getting clearance from the Federal Reserve to raise their dividends and buy back shares. Many of them announced plans to do so immediately after the Fed’s announcement late Wednesday. Huntington Bancshares rose 35 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $8.86, while Citizens Financial Group added 44 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.96.

GOOGLE EFFECT: Care.com shares vaulted 38 percent after Google Capital invested $46 million in the online family care management service. Care.com added $3.22 to $11.69.

PASS THE PASTA: Darden Restaurants fell 3.1 percent after the parent company of Olive Garden forecast a profit for its fiscal 2017 that fell short of Wall Street expectations. The company also reported total sales for its fiscal fourth quarter that fell short of expectations. The stock shed $2.03 to $63.93.

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STRESS OUT: Deutsche Bank slid 2.6 percent after the Federal Reserve rejected its plans to return capital to shareholders through dividend increases and share buybacks. The stock fell 34 cents to $12.33.

WICKERED OUT: Pier 1 Imports slumped 8 percent after the home decor retailer reported disappointing quarterly results. The stock lost 44 cents to $5.01.

JOB MARKET: The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the level of claims remains low enough to suggest that most workers enjoy job security. Unemployment claims have remained below 300,000 for 69 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973.

BRITAIN: Worries over Britain’s historic vote last week to leave the European Union have been easing. Stocks and the British pound plunged in the days after the vote last Thursday. Britain’s stock market has recouped its losses, though that is largely thanks to the pound’s drop, which helps the big companies’ overseas earnings. Other indexes of companies more focused on the British economy are still down sharply.

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EUROPEAN MARKETS: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 2.3 percent, while Germany’s DAX added 0.7 percent. France’s CAC 40 rose 1 percent.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.5.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 95 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $48.93 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was also down 95 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $50.37 a barrel in London.

METALS: In metals trading, gold lost $6.30 to $1,320.60 an ounce, silver gained 22 cents to $18.62 an ounce and copper added 1 cent to $2.20 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The yen, seen as a safe haven, strengthened sharply after the British referendum, but has become less volatile since then. The dollar was trading at 103.15 yen, up from 102.56 yen on Wednesday. The pound slipped to $1.3231 from $1.3431, still down sharply from the pre-vote level of $1.50. The euro fell to $1.1064 from $1.1106.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.48 percent from 1.52 late Wednesday.

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.