Stocks rise 3 days in a row, setting new highs

Gains by big technology and health-care companies pushed U.S. stocks modestly higher Friday, lifting several major indexes to new highs.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, Dow Jones industrial average and Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks each set a record as the market posted its third straight day of gains.

Energy companies helped lift the market as crude oil prices rose. High-dividend stocks such as real estate companies and utilities also posted big gains following a drop in bond yields. The lower yields and a weak forecast from JPMorgan Chase weighed on banks. Financial stocks were the only sector in the S&P 500 to end lower.

The S&P 500 index gained 11.44 points, or 0.5 percent, to reach 2,459.27. The Dow rose 84.65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 21,637.74. The average has hit a record high three days in a row.

The Nasdaq composite added 38.03 points, or 0.6 percent, to reach 6,312.47. The Russell 2000 index picked up 3.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to reach 1,428.82.

— Associated Press

Consumer prices remained flat in June

Lower costs for gas, airline tickets, cars and mobile phone plans kept U.S. consumer prices flat in June, evidence inflation remains muted.

The Labor Department said Friday the unchanged June reading followed a drop of 0.1 percent in May. Inflation has climbed 1.6 percent from a year ago. That’s down sharply from February, when prices rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, prices rose 0.1 percent in June and 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

As inflation has slowed, the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates once more this year and three times next year have come under greater scrutiny. The Federal Reserve typically increases rates to ward off rising inflation, yet price gains have declined this year.

— Associated Press

Tracey, a robot, helps out at Seattle airport

A robot named Tracey is greeting passengers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, providing tips to help get them smoothly through security checkpoints.

The red-and-white, human-sized robot carries a large electronic sign and can speak to passengers in six languages.

Airport officials said the robot isn’t designed to replace human workers but to allow them to spend more time on security.

Tracey, created by Advanced Robot & AI Solutions, is a demonstration model, said chief executive Paul McManus. Future versions could recognize when a traveler is wearing sunglasses or a hat and ask them to remove it before going through security.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Americans curtailed their shopping in June, spending less at restaurants, department stores and gas stations. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell 0.2 percent after declining 0.1 percent in May. Retail spending has risen 2.8 percent over the past 12 months, a relatively modest level of growth given that the sales figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. Sales slipped 0.6 percent at restaurants and bars, 0.7 percent at department stores and 1.3 percent at service stations, reflecting lower gas prices. But spending improved 0.4 percent at non-store retailers and auto dealers.

IBM is taking out full-page advertisements in Texas newspapers opposing the state’s proposed legislation limiting which restrooms transgender people can use, the Dallas Morning News reported. “As one of the largest technology employers in Texas, IBM firmly opposes any measure that would harm the state’s LGBT+ community and make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented Texans,” the IBM ads read. IBM also plans to send 20 employees, including top executives, to oppose the bill Tuesday at the Texas Capitol.

U.S. factory output rebounded in June as manufacturers churned out more cars and furniture, a reassuring sign for U.S. industry. The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory production rose 0.2 percent last month, reversing a drop of 0.4 percent in May. Overall industrial production — including factories, mines and utilities — rose 0.4 percent after growing 0.1 percent in May. Utility output was flat. Mine production rose 1.6 percent on top of May’s 1.9 percent increase on ramped up oil drilling and coal mining.

— From news reports