US Stocks Edge Higher in Afternoon Trading; Oil Prices Slide

STORM WEATHERED: Progressive climbed 3.3 percent after the insurer reported lower-than-expected losses from Hurricane Harvey. The company is the second insurer to report losses related to the hurricane, which battered Texas and Louisiana last month, that were far less than financial analysts expected. Progressive shares added $1.53 to $47.84. Traders also bid up shares in other insurers. Allstate gained 55 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $91.03.

Housing Construction

New private housing starts and permits authorized during the month, at a seasonally adjusted annual pace.

TECH RISING: Technology stocks were also among the big gainers. NetApp climbed $1.25, or 3.1 percent, to $41.88.

COMBO MEAL: Bob Evans Farms jumped 6.4 percent after the maker of frozen foods agreed to be acquired by Post Holdings in a deal worth about $1.53 billion. Shares in Bob Evans rose $4.64 to $77.58. Post, which makes cereals, including Honey Bunches of Oats and Fruity Pebbles, was up 4 cents to $85.88.

DEFENSE BOOST: Several big defense contractors were trading higher after President Donald Trump threatened the “total destruction” of North Korea if that nation’s leader does not abandon his drive toward nuclear weapons. Trump’s remarks came during his debut speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Lockheed Martin was up $2.58, or 0.8 percent, to $306.38. Northrop Grumman gained $2.08, or 0.8 percent, to $278.06.

DONE DEAL: Rite Aid and Walgreens Boots Alliance slumped after the Federal Trade Commission signed off on a deal that calls for Walgreens to buy 2,186 stores for $5.19 billion. That amounts to a much smaller deal than the companies originally sought when Walgreens pushed to buy Rite Aid. The companies abandoned that deal following opposition from regulators. Rite Aid shares lost 29 cents, or 10.8 percent, to $2.44. Walgreens slid 82 cents, or 1 percent, to $81.78.

HEALTH CARE UNCERTAINTY: Several health insurers and hospital operators were trading lower after top Senate Republicans said Tuesday that their last-ditch effort to overhaul President Barack Obama’s health care law is gaining momentum. Envision Healthcare sank $4.38, or 9.2 percent, to $43.29. Aetna slid $5.34, or 3.3 percent, to $155.67. Centene, which administers Medicaid programs and sells health plans to the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, lost $4.61, or 4.9 percent, to $89.97.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.24 percent from 2.23 percent late Monday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 39 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $49.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 41 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $55.09 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.72 yen from 111.47 yen on Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1975 from $1.1953.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Global shares were mixed. In Europe, Germany’s DAX was flat, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gained 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added nearly 2.0 percent coming off a national holiday on Monday. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi lost nearly 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell nearly 0.4 percent.

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