AP wire

Techs lead stocks higher...Construction spending increases...Manufacturing index rises...Auto sales reported

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NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies are once again leading stocks higher in early Wall Street trading. Chipmakers and well-known companies like Oracle are leading the way. South Carolina energy company Scana, which plunged after it stopped construction of a $9 billion nuclear project, is jumping after it agreed to be bought by Dominion Energy for $7.9 billion in stock.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says U.S. builders spent 0.8 percent more on construction projects in November. It was the fourth consecutive monthly gain and provides evidence that construction should continue to support economic growth. The November advance follows October's revised 0.9 percent gain. The November increase was led by a solid advance in homebuilding, which rose 1 percent from October as strength in single-family construction offset weakness in apartment building.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers expanded at a faster pace in December, boosted by a sharp increase in new orders. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 59.7 last month from 58.2 in November. Any reading above 50 points to greater factory activity. Manufacturing has been expanding for the past 16 months. New orders jumped in December, while production also rose. The pace of hiring slipped, although it remained positive.

DETROIT (AP) — Automakers are reporting sales figures for December and 2017 today. Analysts expect the numbers to fall short of 2016's record of 17.55 million, but 2017 is still expected to be the fourth-best sales year in U.S. history. So far today, General Motors, Toyota and Ford are all reporting 1 percent declines in sales last year compared to 2016. Fiat Chrysler said its sales fell 8 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000. That's less than the $1 million price tag that had been expected, but it's still among the most expensive genetic therapies in the world. Spark Therapeutics says it decided on the lower price tag for Luxturna after hearing concerns from health insurers about their ability to cover the injectable treatment. Luxturna is an injection that replaces a defective gene in the retina. The therapy will cost $425,000 per eye.

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