Stocks move higher on Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks got a lift Tuesday as health care companies bounced back after a heavy sell-off.

Biotechnology stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose for the first time in five days after a sharp sell-off that prompted by concern over costs of the drugs they make. Merck and Boston Scientific were among the companies that rose.

Stocks have been flipping between gains and losses for the most of the month, as investors have bought stocks after every dip. While many investors are confident economic growth will accelerate as the weather moderates following an unusually harsh winter, they are reluctant to push stock prices higher before seeing more evidence that the economy is picking up.

“The reasons to buy are certainly there,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners, a wealth management company. “People are afraid to jump the gun.”

The S&P 500 rose 8.18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,865.62. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 91.19 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,367.88. The Nasdaq composite gained 7.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,234.27.

Nine of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 ended the day higher. Industrial stocks rose the most, 0.9 percent, followed by the energy and health care sectors, which each gained 0.8 percent.

Biotechnology companies in the index rose 0.6 percent, led by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which rose $3.32, or 2.2 percent, to $153. The index had lost 8.5 percent over the previous four days. The index has surged in the last year and is still up 45 percent over the last 12 months.

McCormick was the best performing stock in the S&P 500 on Tuesday. The company, which makes spices, seasonings and condiments, rose $3.69, or 5.5 percent, to $71.20 after reporting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The company also reaffirmed its outlook for the year.

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