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Stock indexes turn higher on Wall Street after wobbly start

Stocks are notching modest gains on Wall Street Monday as investors balance cautious optimism about the reopening of businesses shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic against worries that the civil unrest across the U.S. over police brutality could disrupt the economic recovery and widen the outbreak.

The S&P 500 was up 0.4% after wavering between small gains and losses in the early going. Banks, companies that depend on consumer spending and communications companies accounted for a big slice of the gains. Health care was the only sector to fall. Bond yields were mostly higher. Oil prices headed lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90 points, or 0.4%, to 25,447. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.6%. Smaller company stocks were faring better than the rest of the market, driving the Russell 2000 index 1.5% higher.

The stock market is coming off its second month of solid gains. Stocks have now recouped most of their losses after the initial economic fallout from the coronavirus knocked the market into a breathtaking skid in February and March, though the S&P 500 is still down 10% from its all-time high in February.

The prospects for the U.S. economy to begin recovering from the coronavirus shutdowns as more businesses across the country reopened were overshadowed by the civic unrest, where protests against police brutality and racism become violent in multiple cities. The protests spurred concerns of a new increase in coronavirus contagions.

“What we’re dealing with here is that the market is in a holding period,” said David Trainer, CEO of investment research firm New Constructs. European indexes were broadly higher. Asian markets closed higher, including a gain of more than 3% for Hong Kong’s stock market. Investors were relieved after the Trump administration on Friday avoided pulling out of a truce in a tariff war with China in response to Beijing’s new security law on Hong Kong.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.67% from 0.64% late Friday. Oil prices fell. Benchmark U.S. crude slid 1.5% to $34.98 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 0.2% to $37.91 a barrel.

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