Stocks mostly ticked higher today after another rise in gold prices lifted shares of minerals companies.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 15 points in afternoon trading after posting its first three-day gain since April. Broader indexes were mixed.
Gold prices extended their climb after settling at record on Thursday. That lifted shares of mining companies like Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp. The stocks rose about 3 percent.
Traders grew more confident after European leaders said they would publish results of stress tests for banks. Investors have been concerned about European banks for months because of high debts in weak European countries like Greece.
“They need to release the results of the stress tests for people to have confidence in the conclusions,” said Stu Schweitzer, global markets strategist at J.P. Morgan’s Private Bank in New York. “The markets are in a show-me mood on the degree of rigor and disclosure of these tests.”
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank also said Greece was making the necessary budget cuts to reduce its deficit. The austerity measures, which have led to protests, are required under an emergency loan package aimed at keeping the country from defaulting.
Corporate news brought out some buyers. CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. ended a contract dispute that threatened to hurt profits. Without the deal, thousands of Walgreen customers could have had to find somewhere else to fill prescription drugs. The companies didn’t release details of the agreement. CVS shares rose 3 percent, while Walgreen climbed 3.5 percent.
In early afternoon trading, the Dow rose 15.76, or 0.2 percent, to 10,449.85. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.12, or 0.1 percent, to 1,117.16, and the Nasdaq composite index slipped 0.28, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,306.88.
The Dow is on track for its second straight weekly gain. Before that, the Dow had been down for three weeks. Trading since last month has been volatile. Investors are now looking for reassurances that the economic recovery will continue. Fears that a slowdown in Europe could emerge and hurt a U.S. recovery dominated trading in May but have eased in the past two weeks.
Investors have been trying to determine whether the stock market’s “correction” is over. A correction is generally considered a drop of 10-20 percent from a recent peak. The Dow is up 6.3 percent from its lowest close of the year on June 7 but it’s still down 6.9 percent from its 2010 high on April 26.
– Associated Press