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Stocks move higher, led by banks and tech companies

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks are rising Wednesday as banks and technology stocks trade higher. Cruise line companies are rising after Carnival posted strong first-quarter results. The market is building on a rally that started the day before and has reached a high mark for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,693 as of 1:23 p.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up six points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,061. The Nasdaq composite index added 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,862.

Cruise line operator Carnival got a boost after its first-quarter results were better than analysts expected, and the company raised its profit projections for the year. The stock gained $1.74, or 3.5 percent, to $78.98 and competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises added $2.93, or 3.9 percent, to $85.37.

Norfolk Southern jumped $2.57, or 3.1 percent, to $85.37 after it said it is open to a possible sale to Canadian Pacific, but only if Canadian Pacific offers a better price and regulators approve the structure of the deal. Norfolk Southern has rejected three offers from Canadian Pacific worth about $30 billion.

U.S. companies added 200,000 jobs in March, according to a survey of private employers by ADP, a payroll processing company. The survey showed companies in construction, retail and shipping continued to bring on new workers, and it suggests hiring continues in the U.S. The federal government will release its monthly jobs report Friday.

Financial companies made the biggest gains. MetLife gained $2.02, or 4.8 percent, to $44.48 and fellow insurer AIG advanced $1.21, or 2.3 percent, to $54.60. Wells Fargo rose $1, or 2.1 percent, to $49.05 and JPMorgan picked up 94 cents to $59.95.

Acadia Pharmaceuticals rose after a Food and Drug Administration panel made a positive recommendation for Acadia's drug Nuplazid, which is intended to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that harm patients with Parkinson's disease. The stock climbed $1.93, or 8.1 percent, to $25.74.

Drive-in restaurant chain Sonic is rising after it posted strong results in its fiscal second quarter. The stock rose $1.34, or 4.1 percent, to $33.90.

Canadian yoga-wear company Lululemon gained $5.97, or 9.7 percent, to $67.21 after it disclosed strong fourth-quarter sales.

Verint Systems, a company that makes software used to analyze intercepted communications, fell $4.56, or 13 percent, to $30.63. The company's profit and sales fell far short of Wall Street estimates.

Payroll process Paychex lost $1.39, or 2.6 percent, to $53.10 as investors were unimpressed with its fiscal third-quarter results. The stock has climbed over the last two months and is near all-time highs.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 28 cents to $38.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 39 cents to $40.24 a barrel in London.

Stocks rose to their highest prices of 2016 Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank expects to proceed slowly in raising interest rates. That's because the stock market has been volatile and the economy has weakened somewhat over the last few months. Slower worldwide economic growth and weaker oil prices and profits could also hinder the U.S. economy.

Bond prices slipped, returning some of Tuesday's gains. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.84 percent from 1.80 percent. The dollar continued to weaken. The euro rose to $1.1321 from $1.1295 and the dollar fell to 112.56 yen from 112.75 yen.

France's CAC-40 climbs 1.7 percent, while Germany's DAX and the FTSE 100 in Britain each rose 1.6 percent. Asian stocks were mixed after the Asian Development Bank said economies in the region will grow at a slower pace in 2016 and 2017 because of reduced growth in China and a weak recovery in other major industrial economies. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 1.3 percent as the yen continued to strengthen. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 2.1 percent. South Korea's KOSPI rose 0.4 percent.

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