US stocks open higher, led by gains in health care

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose in early trading Friday, led by gains in health care and technology stocks. The price of oil continued to decline and the dollar rose against most major currencies.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,068 as of 9:56 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 102 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,927. The Nasdaq composite rose 31 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,767.

DRAGHI HITS EURO: The euro retreated against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi indicated the bank could soon back further monetary stimulus.

The euro slumped against the dollar after Draghi indicated the bank could soon back a government bond-buying program to combat alarmingly low inflation in the 19-country eurozone. The currency fell to $1.2020, its lowest in 4 ½-years against the dollar.

GLOOMY OUTLOOK: Investors have a number of concerns about Europe as 2015 begins: anemic levels of economic growth in the region, plunging oil prices and an election in Greece on Jan. 25 that could reignite the country's debt crisis if an anti-austerity party wins.

EUROPE'S DAY: Gains in European markets were muted. France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent while Germany's DAX edged up 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.1 percent.

ENERGY: One of the main themes across financial markets in 2014 was the sharp fall in the price of crude oil. U.S. crude fell 56 cents to $52.93 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, declined $1.23 to $56.10.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.13 percent from 2.17 percent on Wednesday. Markets were closed Thursday for the New Year's Day holiday. The dollar also rose against the Japanese yen, climbing 0.7 percent to 120.71.