US stocks climb as energy bounces back from big loss

US stocks led by big gains by energy, telecom companies

US stocks
Thanks to recoveries by energy companies as well as telecom stock gains, US stocks rose on Thursday.  As of 3:09 ET, the Dow Jones was up to 15,899 points.  Shell photo.

NEW YORK _ U.S. stocks are mostly rising Thursday afternoon and recovering some of their steep losses from the day before. The price of oil also recovered from a big decline, and that lifted energy companies, which have been struggling as energy prices tumble.

Keeping score: The Dow Jones industrial average added 139 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 15,899 as of 3:09 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,870. The Nasdaq composite rose eight points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,479.

Stocks were on pace for large gains earlier in the day. The Dow was up 272 points shortly after noon, which would have cancelled out Wednesday’s loss.

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 $.12, or 15.2 per cent, to $8.50 and pipeline company Kinder Morgan rose $2.19, or 18.2 per cent, to $14.20. Coal and natural gas company Consol Energy surged 92 cents, or 18 per cent, to $5.99.

Energy stocks have crumbled as the price of oil fell from $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to their current prices, which are 12-year lows.

Oil gains: U.S. crude rose $1.18, or 4.2 per cent, to close at $29.53 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 $1.37, or 4.9 per cent, to $29.25 a barrel in London.

Little recovery: On Wednesday the price of oil suffered its worst one-day drop since September and stocks skidded. The S&P 500 index closed at its lowest level in almost two years, and the Nasdaq was at its lowest value in more than a year.

More stimulus? Stocks got a lift after European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said Thursday the ECB will consider using more stimulus measures at its next meeting in March as it tries to bolster the European economy. The prospect of more stimulus sent the euro down to $1.0878 from $1.0894 late Wednesday.

The ECB has been buying government-backed bonds, and the yields on 10-year Treasury notes backed by European countries dropped following Draghi’s remarks. That suggests investors expect government bond prices to rise.

The quote: David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management, said the ECB is responding to the current turmoil in the markets while the Fed wants to keep raising interest rates and Chinese economic policy seems to be in disarray.

But he thinks the market could get another lift next week if the Fed acknowledges the turbulent state of the markets at its January meeting. The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade in December, and Lefkowitz said investors are hoping for signs the Fed plans to go slowly.

“At least one of the major central banks is willing to be … more pragmatic and recognize that when facts change, you may need to revisit your policies,” he said.

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 $1.66, or 3.7 per cent, to $46.08. AT&T shares added 75 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $34.65.

Buying mood: Consumer stocks also gained ground. E-commerce giant Amazon picked up $7.38, or 1.3 per cent, to $579.15. Department store operator Nordstrom rose $2.03, or 4.4 per cent, to $48.14 and Home Depot gained $3.83, or 3.3 per cent, to $120.29.

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 $2.26, or 3.1 per cent, to $71.35.

Other energy trading: Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $1.04 a gallon. Heating oil jumped 5 cents, or 5.6 per cent, to 91 cents a gallon. Natural gas gained 4 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $2.15 per 1,000 cubic feet. The price of heating oil climbed as a winter storm bore down on the East Coast. It rose 3.2 cents, or 3.7 per cent, to 89.8 cents gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.4 cents to $1.031 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 2 cents to $2.138 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Sallie Mae OK: Student loan company SLM Corp., or Sallie Mae, reported a larger than expected profit in the fourth quarter. Its shares jumped 69 cents, or 12.8 per cent, to $6.10.

Overseas: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.8 per cent, Germany’s DAX climbed 1.9 per cent and France’s CAC gained 2 per cent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.8 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite sank 3.2 per cent.

Metals: The price of gold fell $8 to $1,098.20 an ounce and silver declined 6.6 cents to $14.094 an ounce. Copper rose 3.7 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $1.997 a pound.

Currencies: The dollar rose to 117.49 yen from 116.78 yen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.02 per cent.

The Canadian Press