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Stock indexes veer higher; oil up

U.S. stocks moved higher in late-afternoon trading Wednesday, on course to recover some of the market's hefty losses from the day before. Energy companies led the gainers, climbing as the price of crude oil rose. Gains by health care companies and several big retailers also helped lift the market. Some travel booking companies and airlines were down as investors monitored Hurricane Irma, which was projected to possibly strike Florida by the weekend.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,464 as of 12:50 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 68 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,821. The Nasdaq composite fell 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,382. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped less than 1 point to 1,399. 

THE QUOTE: "It's a little bit of a rebound from the sort of dramatic day yesterday after everybody got back from the long holiday weekend at the end of the summer and refocused on the market," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research. "We've seen that through the past year, any time we've had some sort of dip, it's a buying opportunity for investors."

IRMA THREATENS: Investors were monitoring Hurricane Irma, which made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday. The Category 5 storm, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded, is forecast to churn along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida this weekend. 

HURRICANE TRADES: Newell Brands slumped 3.7 percent after the consumer products maker cut its profit forecast because of Hurricane Harvey. The company noted that almost all of its resin suppliers with facilities in Texas and Louisiana shut down after that storm hit. Newell's shares gave up $1.80 to $46.93. United Continental was down 1.7 percent after the airline cut its third-quarter outlook, citing increased fuel costs due to Harvey. The stock fell $1.06 to $60.04.

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