U.S. stocks rose Friday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closing above 1800 for the first time and health-care names leading the way higher.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended at another record high above 16,000.
Both the Dow and the S&P recorded their seventh straight week of gains in what has been a strong year for stocks. The advance comes just ahead of December, which since 1950 has been the best month for both the Dow and the S&P.
“We’re advising our clients to take this ride until the end of the year,” said Drew Nordlicht, managing director and partner at Hightower San Diego.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index jumped 3 percent, driven by a surge in Biogen Idec.
Shares of Biogen shot up 13.2 percent on heavy volume to $285.62 after the company won 10 years of exclusivity protection for its multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, from regulators in Europe.
“Health care is the place to be. It’s a hot area. People want stocks in health care, industrials and consumer discretionary. That’s where tactical investors have been focused, and that’s where the money has been flowing,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors in San Antonio.
European regulators also recommended approval of a new drug for hepatitis C from Gilead Sciences, which pushed its shares up 3.7 percent to $74.27.
The S&P 500 health-care sector index has gained 37.5 percent in 2013, making it the S&P 500’s best-performing sector this year.
A company owned by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li has bought the Energy Department’s outstanding $170 million loan to the defunct electric carmaker Fisker Automotive for about $25 million and will try to revive production of Fisker’s luxury Karma sedan.
Fisker, which declared bankruptcy Friday, will end up costing U.S. taxpayers $139 million. The Energy Department said that the loan losses amount to less than 2 percent of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.
Li is the second son of billionaire Li Kashing, a major property and retail magnate in Hong Kong and mainland China. His company, Hybrid Technology, issued a statement saying that it would build new hybrid electric cars based on Fisker’s sports sedan. The Energy Department said that Li’s company had “committed” to manufacture the new Karma in the United States and keep engineering and design facilities in California.
Fisker sold only about 2,000 of its sedans, which retailed for about $100,000 each. The company, which laid off most of its remaining employees this year, had raised about $1.2 billion from investors.
Although Fisker won approval for a $529 million federal loan in 2009, the Energy Department halted disbursements at $192 million in June 2011 after the company failed to meet loan conditions. The loan sale Friday to Hybrid Technology brings to $53 million the total amount the department has recouped.
— Steven Mufson
● Comcast and Charter Communications have held preliminary talks to discuss a joint bid for No. 2 cable operator Time Warner Cable, Bloomberg News reported Friday, citing people familiar with the situation. One of the options the two companies discussed is breaking up Time Warner Cable’s cable assets and splitting up markets between the two companies. Time Warner Cable’s biggest markets are New York and Los Angeles.
● Telecommunications companies AT&T Mobility, Sprint and
T-Mobile have agreed to stop charging customers for premium text messages, the unauthorized third-party charges that appear on cellphone bills. Vermont is leading 45 states in trying to end the unauthorized billing practice, called cramming, Attorney General Bill Sorrell said Thursday. The Federal Trade Commission defines cramming as when a company adds to a phone bill a charge for a service the customer didn’t order.
●A young intern who worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch died of an epileptic seizure that may have been triggered by fatigue, a British coroner said Friday. German-born Moritz Erhardt, 21, was a week from completing a work placement at the bank’s London offices in August when his body was found in the shower of his apartment. The case has sparked widespread speculation that the notorious long working hours and competitive environment at top investment banks were to blame for his death.
●The price of oil slipped to just under $95 Friday but still finished the week with a gain of $1 a barrel. Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery fell 60 cents to close at $94.84 in trading in New York. The increase from $93.84 a week ago was largely because of an improving U.S. jobs picture, which would mean more drivers making the daily commute.
● The government on Friday sought permission to add Wells Fargo executive Kurt Lofrano as a defendant in its year-old lawsuit accusing the bank of fraud. In a motion filed in Manhattan federal court, the Justice Department said Lofrano played a “critical role” in the bank’s alleged failure to report defective home loans to the government. Wells Fargo, the country’s largest mortgage lender and fourth-largest bank, is accused of misleading the Department of Housing and Urban Development into believing the loans qualified for insurance from the agency’s Federal Housing Administration, costing millions in losses.
— From news services