NEW YORK — Stocks were steadily rising into the afternoon on Thursday, building on a modest climb from the day before. Investors were keeping a close eye on the price of oil, which had reversed its losses from earlier in the day.
Bank stocks, battered from several days of losses, were among the biggest gainers.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 140 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,627 as of 2:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 13 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,942 and the Nasdaq composite was up 16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,559.
OIL: The price of crude oil and the stock market have been closely correlated in recent weeks. Investors have been concerned that weaker energy prices are a signs of sluggishness in the global economy.
“Oil and the stock market are going to keep moving in tandem like this until oil prices stabilize,” said Jeremy Zirin, chief equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management.
Crude oil jumped $1.05 at $33.27 a barrel while Brent crude, used to price oils internationally, was up 79 cents at $35.15 a barrel.
BUY, BUY, BUY: Salesforce.com jumped $4.98, or 8 percent, to $67.47 after the company issued an upbeat outlook for the year. Investors had been worried about the results of Salesforce after a competitor, Tableau, issued a dismal outlook earlier this month that caused its shares to drop nearly 50 percent, dragging down its competitors.
BANK HOLIDAY: After several weeks of downward movement, bank stocks were getting a temporary reprieve on Thursday, with the sector being biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were up 4 percent and 2 percent respectively, while the retail banks — Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — were up roughly 1 percent each.
Bank stocks have been hit hard this year due to investor fears that the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to raise interest rates, which directly boost bank profits, and that low oil prices will continue to cause banks to write off energy loans.
“The fears about the banks are entirely about profitability. Investors were expecting the Fed to raise rates three to four times this year, now we are looking at maybe one interest rate hike,” Zirin said.
POSITIVE DATA: Orders to U.S. companies for long-lasting manufactured goods advanced in January at the strongest pace in 10 months, the government said Thursday. A key category that tracks business investment surged by the largest amount in 19 months. The bigger-than-expected gains could be a sign of better days ahead for the nation’s beleaguered manufacturers.
IGNORING CHINA: Both U.S. and European markets are holding their own compared to the drop in Chinese stocks overnight. The Shanghai composite fell 6.4 percent on renewed concerns about the country’s manufacturing sector and market liquidity.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.71 percent from 1.75 percent late Wednesday. In currency trading, with the euro was nearly unchanged at $1.1026 and the dollar climbed to 112.96 yen.
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