US stocks edge higher as health care companies rise

U.S. stocks are turning slightly higher Thursday as health care companies rise. AbbVie jumped after it reached a deal with a competitor that would delay competition for its anti-inflammatory treatment Humira, the biggest-selling drug in the world. Technology companies and banks are taking small losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,508 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,386. The Nasdaq composite shed 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,447. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,485. The Russell 2000 is at all-time highs and is coming off its biggest daily gain in six months.

September is historically a weak month for stocks, as the S&P 500 falls about 0.5 percent in September on average. But the index is up 1.5 percent this month, on track for its sixth consecutive monthly gain.

HEALTH CARE GAINS: Drugmaker AbbVie climbed after it resolved a patent dispute over Amgen’s version of AbbVie’s drug Humira, which is the source of most of its revenue. Amgen agreed not to begin selling its version of the anti-inflammatory medicine in Europe until October 2018, and the U.S. version won’t go on the market until Jan. 31, 2023.

The settlement would mean billions of dollars in additional sales for AbbVie, which reported $16 billion in Humira sales in 2016. Its stock gained $4.62, or 5.5 percent, to $89.37 and Amgen rose $1.04 to $185.92.

ABBOTT APPROVAL: Abbott Laboratories jumped after the Food and Drug Administration approved its FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system for adults with Type 1 diabetes. The product uses a sensor inserted below the skin to measure blood glucose. Analysts say Abbott could have a competitive edge because the FDA did not advise patients to take samples of their blood to confirm the system’s readings.

Abbott rose $1.72, or 3.3 percent, to $53.87. DexCom, which gets all its…

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