Business

Stocks edge higher as 3 days of gains restore some calm

US stocks rose for the third day in a row Tuesday, led by banks, retailers, and technology companies. The rebound follows a harrowing drop of more than 10 percent over the previous two weeks.

After a wobbly start, stocks started climbing in the early afternoon and wound up with their most placid day in the past few weeks.

Amazon climbed once again, and athletic apparel companies rose following solid fourth-quarter results from Under Armour. Apple continued to recoup some of its recent losses.

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Energy companies slipped again, and companies that distribute prescription drugs and medical supplies slumped.

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Stocks have been making big swerves higher and lower recently. Last week, the Dow Jones industrial average twice fell more than 1,000 points in a day, sometimes gaining or losing hundreds of points in a few minutes. But on Tuesday, the gap between the Dow’s highest mark and its lowest was a more modest 284 points.

Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Investment Management, said investors who have steered clear of the stock market started to pile in over the last few months, but that round of buying ended abruptly.

‘‘The pattern that we saw over the last month and a half is not by any stretch of the imagination unusual,’’ he said, ‘‘But it is compressed. It normally doesn’t happen over a six-week period.’’

Hackett said he feels stocks have fallen to more reasonable prices, partly because of the market slump and partly because corporate earnings grew at a strong clip in the fourth quarter.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3 percent, to 2,662.94. The Dow added 0.2 percent, to 24,640.45. The Nasdaq gained 0.5 percent, to 7,013.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished up 0.3 percent, at 1,494.95.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department will issue its monthly report on consumer prices. Investors will be watching carefully because the recent bout of market volatility was touched off by worries that inflation might be increasing.

Under Armour climbed after it reported better-than-expected sales as shoe and accessory revenue picked up. The stock had plunged 50 percent in 2017 on top of a 30 percent decline in 2016. It rose 17.2 percent Tuesday. Foot Locker also gained ground.

Amazon climbed 2 percent, and dollar stores, department stores and clothing companies made gains, as well.

AmerisourceBergen jumped 9.3 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported Walgreens Boots Alliance wants to buy the rest of the company. It already owns 26 percent of AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest prescription drug distributors. It also distributes products to hospitals and other health systems.

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Separately, the Journal reported Amazon is looking to win over hospitals and clinics to distribute a variety of medical products. Two other distributors of prescription drugs also fell. Cardinal Health lost 3.4 percent, and McKesson fell 1.9 percent.

In January Amazon announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at reducing health care costs. It’s widely believed to have designs on a larger role in the health care system.

The Federal Trade Commission said it is suing three large dental product suppliers for conspiring to deny discounts to groups that buy products for small practices. Henry Schein, Patterson, and privately held Benco control 85 percent of the $10 billion market.

The companies rejected the allegations and said they will defend themselves in court. Henry Schein fell 6.6 percent, and Patterson lost 5.2 percent.

Nutrition supplement company GNC Holdings soared 18 percent after it formed a joint venture with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group of China. Harbin is investing $300 million in GNC, making it the largest shareholder.