U.S. stocks rise as Britons go to polls on EU membership

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are rising Thursday afternoon as investors grow more optimistic that Britons will vote to stay in the European Union. Investors are buying stocks and selling bonds, sending banks higher. Energy companies are up with the price of oil and materials companies are also climbing.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 158 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,938 as of 2:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 18 points, also 0.9 percent, to 2,103. The Nasdaq composite gained 53 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,886. Utility stocks, which are popular when investors are fearful, lagged the rest of the market.

BRITISH VOTE: Investors are awaiting the outcome of the referendum on Britain’s membership in the EU. Over the last few days stocks have gradually moved higher as investors grew more confident Britain won’t leave the union. Before that, though, the markets slumped as investors worried that a “leave” vote would disrupt the economies of Britain and Europe.

THE QUOTE: Throughout this year, the market has bobbed up and down as investors traded on political and central bank news, like the British referendum and the actions of the Federal Reserve.

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J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, said that’s because the global economy is sluggish.

“What it really shows is just a lack of growth,” he said. “That makes it very difficult to commit capital and I think that’s a pattern you’re going to continue to see.”

BONDS AND BANKS: Bond prices fell, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.73 percent from 1.69 percent a day earlier. Higher bond yields mean higher interest rates, which allow banks to make money on lending. Citigroup rose $1.60, or 3.7 percent, to $44.28 and Bank of America gained 38 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $14.

CURRENCIES: The British pound rose to $1.4804 from $1.14691, its highest level of the year. The pound has gotten stronger as investors grew more confident Britain will stay in the EU. The dollar rose to 105.84 yen from 104.47 yen. The euro rose to $1.1353 from $1.1307.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 99 cents, or 2 percent, to $50.11 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose $1.05, or 2 percent, to $50.91 a barrel in London. Among energy stocks, Chevron picked up $1.63, or 1.6 percent, to $103.92 and Valero Energy rose 76 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $53.57.

MATERIALS: Fertilizer maker Mosaic climbed $1.26, or 4.7 percent, to $28 on reports that the large potash companies of Russia and Belarus might start working together, something that haven’t done since 2013. That might bolster prices of the fertilizer, which have slumped in recent years. Other mining and chemicals companies also surged. Copper miner Freeport-McMoran added 31 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $11.82 and paint and coatings maker PPG Industries rose $3.19, or 3 percent, to $111.

THRILL-IO: Software company Twilio surged after went public in an offering that raised $150 million. The company makes software that helps companies communicate with their customers and employees through methods like text messages and phone notifications. Its stock soared $11.85, or 79 percent, to $26.85.

CHANGE AT MACY’S: Macy’s, the largest U.S. department store, said CEO Terry Lundgren will step down early next year after about 13 years in charge. He will remain chairman of the company, and president Jeff Gennette will become CEO. Macy’s rose 49 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $33.30.

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REBOOT: Software maker Red Hat fell $1.39, or 1.7 percent, to $78.36 after it posted mixed quarterly results and a disappointing outlook. The company also said it will buy software maker 3scale, but didn’t disclose terms.

BOOK IT: Book seller Barnes & Noble reported stronger-than-expected sales and its stock jumped 93 cents, or 8.9 percent, to $11.37.

METALS: The price of gold fell $6.90 to $1,263.10 an ounce, and it’s down almost 3 percent over the last five days. Silver rose 4 cents to $17.35 an ounce. Copper added 3 cents to $2.16 a pound.

JOBS: Applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, more evidence employers are keeping workers and may be hiring at a faster pace.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 rose 2 percent and Germany’s DAX gained 1.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched up 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.3 percent.