U.S. stocks surge with tech stocks taking the lead

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are on pace for their biggest gain since March as technology companies like Apple and Microsoft climb. Homebuilder stocks rose sharply after the government reported that sales of new homes reached an eight-year high last month. Rising interest rates sent bank stocks higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 217 points, or 1.2 percent, to 17,710 as of 3:03 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 28 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,075. The Nasdaq composite index surged 92 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,858.

BIG NAMES: Tech stocks rose. Apple picked up $1.45, or 1.5 percent, to $97.88 and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, added $15.78, or 2.2 percent, to $733.03. Microsoft rose $1.51, or 3 percent, to $51.54.

HOMECOMING: Home builder Toll Brothers reported better first-quarter results than analysts expected, and the company raised its annual projections for home prices and sales. The stock gained $2.19, or 8.1 percent, to $29.29.

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Other homebuilders also climbed after the Commerce Department said sales of new homes reached their highest level in eight years in April. Beazer Homes USA added 62 cents, or 8.6 percent, to $7.82 and PulteGroup rose 94 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $18.76.

BANK ON IT: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.85 percent from 1.84 percent. When interest rates go up, as they have been recently, banks can make more money from lending. JPMorgan Chase climbed $1.02, or 1.6 percent, to $64.48 and Bank of America gained 23 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $14.70.

THE QUOTE: It’s been a rough month on the market. Stocks were mixed last week after a four-week-long string of losses.

“It’s almost like a rubber band. When things get too stretched they snap back,” said David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management. “A little bit of good data has reminded people that things are actually OK.”

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MONSANT-NO: Agribusiness giant Monsanto rejected an offer from German conglomerate Bayer worth $62 billion, or $122 per share. However Monsanto said it’s open to talks with Bayer about a possible sale. The stock rose $2.85, or 2.7 percent, to $108.85.

GOING TO DISNEY WORLD: Streaming video company Netflix jumped after it said it struck deal with Disney. Starting in September, Netflix will have exclusive U.S. rights to new movies from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar. Netflix stock jumped $3.56, or 3.8 percent, to $98.45.

DEAL OFF: Fertilizer maker CF Industries ended a deal to buy OCI’s distribution networks for about $8 billion. CF planned to reincorporate in the U.K. as part of the deal, which would have reduced its tax bill, but the company said new Treasury Department rules made the combination less appealing. CF Industries will pay OCI $150 million for calling off the deal. CF Industries shed $2.23, or 7.5 percent, to $27.62.

MORE RETAIL PAIN: Electronics retailer Best Buy said its quarterly sales kept falling and its outlook was weak. That made Best Buy the latest retailer to disclose disappointing quarterly results. Its stock lost $2.47, or 7.5 percent, to $30.53.

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Shoe and accessories retailer DSW cut its outlook, saying it expects weaker sales this year. That came after the company reported disappointing results for its first fiscal quarter. The stock gave up $2.32, or 10.7 percent, to $19.41.

OVER ARMOURED: Athletic apparel maker Under Armour rose after it announced a deal with UCLA worth $280 million over 15 years. The stock jumped $1.07, or 2.9 percent, to $38.34.

TWITTER TRIPPED UP: Twitter announced a series of format changes that make its 140-character limit a bit more flexible. That might make Twitter more appealing to new users. The social media service said that in a few months, photos, videos and other media won’t count toward its character limit. However it didn’t abolish that limit entirely, as some had expected. Already trading around all-time lows, the stock declined 34 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $14.07.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 added 2.5 percent while Germany’s DAX gained 2.2 percent. In Britain the FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.9 percent as the yen continued to strengthen, hurting Japanese exporters. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent.

ENERGY: Oil is trading at its highest price since early October, and benchmark U.S. crude picked up 54 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.62 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 26 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $48.61 a barrel in London.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline gained 1 cent to $1.65 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas fell 8 cents to $1.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold fell $22.30, or 1.8 percent, to $1,229.20 an ounce. Silver slid 17 cents, or 1 percent, to $16.25 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.07 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.99 yen from 109.19 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1148 from $1.1221.