Nation roundup for May 31
Suicide bomber was an American
WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department confirmed Friday that a U.S. citizen from Florida launched a suicide bombing against Syrian government troops earlier this week in what is believed to be the first time an American has been involved in such attacks since the start of the Syrian civil war.
Opposition forces fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad had earlier claimed that Abu Hurayra al-Amriki was, in fact, an American fighter who carried out a May 25 truck bombing outside a restaurant in the government-held northwestern city of Idlib. Al-Amriki means “the American.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that he was an American. Psaki said it appeared to be the first time an American citizen was involved in a suicide bombing since the start of the three-year civil war in Syria that has killed at least 160,000.
Psaki had no other details. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told reporters in Miami Friday that Al-Amriki is from Florida but did not provide any further details.
Cancer patients get fertility help
CHICAGO (AP) — Doctors may have found a way to help young breast cancer patients avoid infertility caused by chemotherapy. Giving a drug to shut down the ovaries temporarily seems to boost the odds they will work after treatment ends, and it might even improve survival, a study found.
“They’re really exciting findings” that could help thousands of women each year in the United States alone, said the study’s leader, Dr. Halle Moore of the Cleveland Clinic.
“This has implications far beyond breast cancer,” for young women with other types of tumors, too, added Dr. Clifford Hudis, breast cancer chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
He is president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which featured the study at its annual conference in Chicago on Friday. More than 30,000 cancer specialists from around the world are attending.
Dow, S&P close at record highs
NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market closed out May mostly higher Friday, sending two out of the three major U.S. indexes to record highs.
Trading was uneven, and indexes moved between small gains and losses for most of the day. A late push higher left the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard &Poor’s 500 at all-time highs, but just barely.
May was the best month for investors since February. The S&P rose 2.1 percent for the month, while the Dow rose 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq rose 3.1 percent.
“This market may have been choppy earlier in the year, but the trend is higher,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, a market strategist with Voya Investment Management, formerly known as ING Investment Management.
The Dow rose 18.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,717.17, less than two points above its previous record high set on May 13.
The S&P 500 index rose 3.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,923.57, also closing at a record. The only index to fall was the Nasdaq composite, which ended down 5.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,242.62.
On Friday, investors had two somewhat disappointing reports on the U.S. consumer.
The Commerce Department said consumer spending unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent in April, the first drop in that indicator in a year. Economists expect the drop to be temporary, however. Consumer spending jumped 1 percent in March.
“It is obvious that after an unseasonably colder January and February, consumers came out with a vengeance in March,” Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a note to clients. “So, April’s poor showing on the spending front is payback for a strong March.”
In a separate report, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell more than analysts were expecting. The index slipped to 81.9 in May from 84.9 in April. Economists had expected 82.8.
Key economic data comes out next week, including the May jobs report on Friday. Economists expect the U.S. economy created 220,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, according to FactSet, a financial information provider. The European Central Bank will also have its interest rate policy meeting that day.
Among stocks, Lions Gate Entertainment was one of the biggest decliners Friday. The movie studio slid $3.40, or 12 percent, to $26.13 after reporting a profit of 35 cents per share, a 70 percent drop from the year before and well below what analysts had expected. Lions Gate’s movies include the “The Hunger Games” series.
Sunglasses retailer Pacific Sunwear dropped 52 cents, or 18 percent, to $2.42. The company warned investors that it would report a two-cent loss this quarter, not the two-cent profit that analysts had expected.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 2.47 percent. Bond yields are the near their lows for the year thanks to strong demand from foreign and U.S. buyers.
“If we were in a normal bond market, these yields would signal weakness in the U.S. economy,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “But I think what’s going on is more of a temporary phenomenon.”
Roughly 3.2 billion shares traded hands on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, slightly below the 50-day average. Volume has been relatively light this week, which was shortened by the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. on Monday.
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