Banks lead US stocks modestly higher in afternoon trading

Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks modestly higher in late-afternoon trading Monday, on course to add slightly to the market’s gains from last week. Industrials stocks also rose, while retailers and other consumer-focused companies lagged the most.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,503 as of 3:22 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,340. Both indexes closed at record highs on Friday. The Nasdaq composite added 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,452. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 9 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,441.

ON THE RADAR: Investors were looking ahead to the latest two-day policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which was set to begin Tuesday. Traders will be listening for indications on the timing for the next rate hike and when the Fed might start shrinking its multitrillion-dollar stockpile of bonds. Forecasters expect the Fed to leave rates unchanged and stick to plans to raise rates in December.

THE QUOTE: “This is really a day which is characterized by rates moving and equities being influenced by interest rates,” said Bill Northey, senior vice president with U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

BANK ON THIS: Investors sent shares in banks and other financial companies higher. Citigroup added $1.65, or 2.4 percent, to $70.69, while Regions Financial rose 28 cents, or 2 percent, to $14.03.

INDUSTRIALS RALLY: Several industrial companies were also among the big gainers. Caterpillar climbed $2.31, or 1.9 percent, to $123.69. Parker-Hannifin rose $3.51, or 2.1 percent, to $173.20.

STRONG DEFENSE: Aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK soared 20.3 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Northrop Grumman for $7.8 billion. Shares in Orbital gained $22.37 to $132.41. Northrop added $8.24, or 3.1 percent, to $275.27.

DONE DEAL: Silver Spring Networks surged 24 percent after the energy networking platform provider agreed to be acquired by Itron in a deal the companies valued at $830 million. Silver Spring shares gained $3.11 to $16.11. Itron climbed $2.98, or 4.1 percent, to $75.78.

TOY TROUBLE: Mattel and Hasbro slumped following published reports saying that Toys R Us may file for bankruptcy protection before this holiday season. Mattel slid $1, or 6.3 percent, to $14.86, while Hasbro fell $1.32, or 1.4 percent, to $93.52.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.22…

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