US stocks move higher in afternoon trading, making up some of the ground lost the day before



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FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014 file photo, people pass a Wall Street subway stop, in New York's Financial District. U.S. stocks rose modestly in late morning trading Wednesday, May 27, 2015, recovering part of a steep loss from the day before. Investors remain focused on Greece's debt problems. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)


NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose modestly in midday trading Wednesday, recovering part of a steep loss from the day before. Investors remain focused on Greece's debt problems.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 125 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,166 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The Dow sank 190 points on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 18 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,122 and the Nasdaq composite added 66 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,098.

MERGER APPROVAL: Tobacco companies Lorillard and Reynolds American rose after the Federal Trade Commission gave its tacit approval to the companies' $27.4 billion merger. Lorillard, maker of Newport cigarettes, was up 84 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $72.96. Reynolds American, which makes Camel brand cigarettes, was up $1.86, or 2.5 percent, to $77.29.

STRONG GREENBACK: The U.S. dollar extended its gains after a surge the previous day. Traders sent the dollar higher following some encouraging signs on the U.S. economy, including better-than-expected home sales, durable goods and consumer confidence.

The dollar's sharp appreciation was a partial factor in Tuesday's sell-off. The strong dollar sent commodity prices falling, which in turn hit shares of material, oil and gas and industrial companies.

The dollar rose to 123.84 yen from 122.99 yen. The euro was flat against the dollar at $1.0885.

OUT OF FASHION: Michael Kors Holdings sank $14.60, or 24 percent, to $45.99. The handbag and accessories maker posted a drop in year-over-year sales and predicted sales would be well short of analysts' estimates.

A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: Jewelry maker Tiffany & Co. rose $9.95, or 12 percent, to $95.48 after its quarterly results topped analysts' expectations, despite a stronger dollar.

GREECE WATCH: Greece might miss a debt payment on June 5 if it fails to receive bailout funds from creditors, who are demanding that the country make reforms to its economy. It is unclear whether an agreement can be reached in time. Missing those payments could destabilize the country's financial system and eventually push it out of the 19-country eurozone, a step that could shake the currency union and the global economy.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday that his country is close to reaching a deal with its creditors, but stressed that "calm and determination" were needed in the final stretch of negotiations.

Germany's DAX rose 1.3 percent, France's CAC-40 index rose 2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 1.2 percent. Greece's stock market was up 3.5 percent. Investors bid prices of Greek government debt higher, sending the yield on Greece's 10-year bond down to 10.82 percent, a sharp drop from 11.94 percent the day before.

ANXIOUSNESS: Outside of the Greece and dollar, most of investors' attention is on the Federal Reserve and when the central bank plans to start raising interest rates for the first time in almost a decade. Investors and strategists are split on when the central bank will move, with some thinking it could be as early as September and most looking at early 2016.

Strategists argue that until the market has some more clarity from the Fed or from economic data, stocks are unlikely to post solid gains.

"It's an old but true expression: the market likes certainty. Until we get that from the Fed, stocks are unlikely to make any headway," said David Lefkowitz, a senior equity strategist at UBS.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 45 cents to $57.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.15 percent from 2.14 percent.

METALS: Precious and industrial metals futures ended lower. Gold lost $1.30 to $1,185.60 an ounce, silver fell 10 cents to $16.65 an ounce and copper fell a penny to $2.77 a pound.

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