​Stocks keep rising as oil prices edge upward

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks continue to rise Tuesday morning as the price of oil moves higher. Energy companies are gaining the most, while a drop in bond yields is sending high-dividend phone company stocks higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 72 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,993 as of 12:15 p.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,117. The Nasdaq composite index edged up four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,973 as drug company stocks struggled.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 49 cents, or 1 percent, to $50.18 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added 61 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $51.16 a barrel in London.

Chevron rose $1.36, or 1.3 percent, to $102.53 while Newfield Exploration added $1.22, or 3 percent, to $41.16. Helmerich & Payne gained $1.86, or 2.9 percent, to $66.60.

Bond prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note down to 1.71 percent from 1.74 percent. That made bonds less appealing, and sent income-seeking investors into phone company stocks. Verizon added 67 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $51.38. In other sectors, airlines also posted solid gains. Southwest Airlines picked up 1.13, or 2.7 percent, to $42.91 and Delta rose 87 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $42.15.

Organic and specialty foods distributor United Natural Foods posted a larger-than-expected profit in its fiscal third quarter, and the company raised its projections for the year. Its stock jumped $5.45, or 14 percent, to $44.28.

Real estate website Zillow Group said it agreed to pay $130 million to settle a lawsuit over trade secrets brought by Move Inc., the National Association of Realtors, and others. The stock gained $1.98, or 6.5 percent, to $32.31.

Ralph Lauren said it will close stores and cut jobs as part of a restructuring plan that is intended to save the company about $200 million a year. It expects to take more than $500 million in one-time charges related to the move. The retailer's stock fell $6.42, or 6.7 percent, to $89.91.

Drugmaker Biogen tumbled $35.21, or 12.1 percent, to $254.63 after the company said an experimental multiple sclerosis drug, opicinumab, failed in a mid-stage clinical trial.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals said a study of its drug Soliris failed, and its stock lost $18.77, or 12.1 percent, to $136.22. The company gets almost all of its revenue from Soliris, which is approved to treat two rare blood disorders, and an additional approval could have strengthened its sales.

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals disclosed its delayed quarterly results. The company said it took a loss and cut its profit and revenue estimates for the year. Its stock gave up $5.27, or 18.3 percent, to $23.58.

Germany's DAX rose 1.6 percent and the CAC-40 in France was up 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares edged up 0.1 percent after a hefty gain on Monday. Asian stock markets posted strong gains earlier. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi gained 1.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 1.4 percent.

The dollar slipped to 107.36 yen from 107.40 yen. The euro fell to $1.1359 from $1.1373.