NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are climbing Thursday after the Commerce Department said spending by U.S. consumers grew in July, along with wages and salaries. Technology companies are extending their winning streak as the Nasdaq composite nears record highs. Health care and energy companies are also rising, and so are retailers. Packaged food companies are falling after weak forecasts from Campbell Soup.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,470 as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 51 points, or 0.2 percent, to 21,944. The Nasdaq composite gained 55 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,423, just above the record high it set in late July. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 13 points, or 1 percent, to 1,404.
ECONOMY VIEWS: The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in July, the best showing in three months, as wages and salaries increased. Stocks climbed a day ago after the government raised its estimate of second-quarter economic growth, and on Friday, investors will look at the government’s monthly jobs report for data on employment as well as wages.
“The economy is gaining traction, and inflation at this stage is still modest,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. That’s been good for stocks, as low inflation and low interest rates make stocks more appealing and securities like bonds less appealing.
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Krosby added that other news, including a manufacturing survey from China, “helped underpin the notion that it is a global recovery in the economy.”
LEADERS: Drugmaker Gilead Sciences rose to its highest price in more than a year as it moved up $1.75, or 2.2 percent, to $82.99, and health insurer Centene rose $2.04, or 2.4 percent, to $88.47.
Technology companies rose for the fourth day in a row and set new record highs. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, gained $11.66, or 1.2 percent, to $955.29 and Microsoft picked up 84 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $74.85.
Retailers also soared, as the consumer spending figures suggest Americans feel comfortable enough to spend more money. Amazon gained $12.36, or 1.3 percent, to $979.35. Toy maker Hasbro rose $2.62, or 2.7 percent, to $97.90 and jewelry seller Tiffany added $3.62, or 4.1 percent, to $91.27. Tool maker Stanley Black & Decker picked up $3.72, or…