APTOPIX Financial Markets

In this Jan. 12, 2017, photo, traders work on the Mizuho Americas trading floor in New York. Shares in Asia were mixed on Monday, April 17, 2017, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to South Korea, warned that U.S. patience with Pyongyang has run out. Many global markets were closed for the Easter holidays. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are starting higher Monday as investors get back to trading after the Easter holiday weekend. Technology and consumer-focused companies are making some of the largest gains after the Chinese government said that country's economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the first quarter. Health care and energy companies are lagging the market.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,338 as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 88 points, or 0.4 percent, to 20,541. The Nasdaq composite picked up 27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,832. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 4 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,350. Stocks have declined three weeks out of the last four.

Early leaders included chipmaker Nvidia, which gained $2.32, or 2.4 percent, to $97.81, and Google parent company Alphabet, which picked up $8.17, or 1 percent, to $949.35. Among consumer companies, online retail giant Amazon jumped $8.13 to $892.80 and streaming video company Netflix added $2.95, or 2.1 percent, to $145.87.

CHINA: China's recovering economy appeared to get stronger in the first quarter, as it grew 6.9 percent compared to a year ago. That was a slightly faster pace than the quarter before. The world's second-largest economy grew at its slowest pace in almost 30 years in 2016. Policies aimed at tempering the slowdown included higher spending on construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Relatively cheap credit spurred booming property sales. The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 percent.

LET'S NOT SPLIT UP: Medical device maker Alere surged after it accepted a new, lower buyout offer from Abbott Laboratories. Abbott will pay $51 a share, or about $5.3 billion. Abbott agreed to buy Alere more than a year ago for $56 per share, or $5.8 billion, but filed a lawsuit to end the deal after Alere recalled a key product, delayed filing a financial statement, and faced an investigation into its business outside the U.S.

Alere climbed $6.94, or 16.4 percent, to $49.25. It had traded as low as $31.47 last July as investors worried the deal would fall apart. Abbott rose 29 cents to $42.96.

ACHES AND PAINS: Eli Lilly stumbled after the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve its much-anticipated pill for the immune disorder rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA said it wants more information about the safety of Olumiant and the best doses for the drug. The drug was approved in Europe in February and Lilly has high hopes for it because it's a pill instead of an injection like most other new rheumatoid arthritis drugs. It's the second drug development setback for Lilly since November and its stock lost $3.42, or 4 percent, to $82.46.

CRUNCHED: Snack maker Snyder's-Lance is tumbling after it gave a weak first-quarter forecast that included more spending on marketing and lower profit margins. Snyder's-Lance also said its CEO Carl Lee Jr. retired after 12 years with the company. Brian Driscoll will be its interim CEO. Driscoll was the CEO of Diamond Foods, a company Snyder's-Lance bought in 2016 for more than $1 billion. Snyder's-Lance dropped $7.59, or 19 percent, to $32.34.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 9 cents to $53.09 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 5 cents to $55.84 per barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.22 percent. It finished at 2.24 percent Thursday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.47 yen from 109.16 yen. The euro rose to $1.0660 from $1.0612.

OVERSEAS: Markets in Hong Kong, France, Germany and Britain were all closed for the Easter holiday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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