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US stocks rise as energy stocks bounce back from big loss

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are climbing Thursday, led by big gains in energy companies as the prices of crude oil and natural gas recover from steep plunges the day before. Telecom stocks also rose after Verizon reported strong fourth-quarter results.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 146 points, or 0.9 percent, to 15,912 as of 11:23 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 16 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,874. The Nasdaq composite picked up 30 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,501.

ENERGY STOCKS: Oil and gas stocks climbed after a plunge a day earlier. Natural gas company Southwestern Energy jumped after saying it will eliminate around 1,100 jobs in the next few months. Its shares added 77 cents, or 10.5 percent, to $8.15 and pipeline company Kinder Morgan rose $2.14, or 17.8 percent, to $14.15.

ENERGY PRICES: U.S. crude rose 80 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $29.15 a barrel in New York. On Wednesday U.S. crude took its biggest one-day loss since September. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 83 cents, or 3 percent, to $28.71 a barrel in London.

MORE STIMULUS? European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said Thursday the ECB will consider using more stimulus measures at its next meeting in March. At the ECB’s December meeting, the bank’s rate-setting council decided to extend its bond purchases by six months. The prospect of more stimulus sent the euro down to $1.0823 from $1.0894 late Wednesday.

TELECOM RISES: Telecom stocks rose after Verizon, the largest U.S. cellphone carrier, reported better-than-expected results in the fourth quarter. Verizon said it turned a profit in the fourth quarter and held on to more customers. Its shares gained $1.28, or 2.9 percent, to $45.71. Frontier Communications added 11 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $4.05.

FEELING BETTER: Health care stocks also traded higher. Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare added 82 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $25.51 and rival HCA Holdings rose $1.60, or 2.5 percent, to $64.43.

RAILROADS NOT WORKIN’: Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter profit and revenue fell far short of Wall Street estimates. CEO Lance Fritz said the uncertainty in energy and commodity markets and the strong U.S. dollar will continue to affect the railroad’s business this year. The stock lost $4.15, or 5.6 percent, to $69.46.

SALLIE MAE-OK: Student loan company SLM Corp., or Sallie Mae, reported a larger than expected profit in the fourth quarter. Its shares jumped 66 cents, or 12.2 percent, to $6.07.

CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF: Airlines rose as lower fuel costs boosted their profits. Southwest Airlines reported a record profit, almost triple its net income from a year ago, as fuel costs fell by almost a third. The airline said demand for travel is strong but fares are weaker. Its stock climbed 80 cents, or 2 percent, to $40.10.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.4 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 1.9 percent and France’s CAC gained 1.7 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.8 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite sank 3.2 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.42 yen from 116.78 yen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.98 percent.

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