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US: Stocks rally after two down days

US stocks pushed higher on Thursday, rallying after two down days on generally solid corporate earnings and a gain in oil prices.

[NEW YORK] US stocks pushed higher on Thursday, rallying after two down days on generally solid corporate earnings and a gain in oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 225.48 points (1.31 per cent) to 17,416.85. The index fell nearly 500 points in the prior two sessions.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 19.09 (0.95 per cent) to 2,021.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 45.41 (0.98 per cent) at 4,683.41.

Analysts cited a modest rise in oil prices as a source of calm after the commodity fell sharply on Wednesday.

"Investors are worried that falling commodity prices could lead to a deflationary period," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

Mr Cardillo said earnings have been "pretty much okay" following a stream of reports encompassing a wide array of economic sectors.

Dow member McDonald's jumped 5.1 per cent after the struggling fast-food giant announced Don Thompson would step down as chief executive and would be replaced by company veteran and chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook.

Dow member Boeing jumped 5.8 per cent, gaining for a second day after earnings Wednesday bested expectations. Apple also had a second day on the upswing after good earnings, rising 3.1 per cent.

Chinese online giant Alibaba slumped 8.8 per cent after sales for the December quarter came in at US$4.22 billion. That was 40 per cent above the year-ago period, but below the US$4.45 billion projected by analysts.

The company also hit back at a Chinese regulator that accused Alibaba of selling fake good and labeled its executives "arrogant." Yahoo, which Tuesday announced plans to spin off a large Alibaba stake, fell 5.9 per cent.

Chipmaker Qualcomm plummeted 10.3 per cent after the company lowered its profit forecast, citing greater competition in China, among other factors.

Ford Motor rose 2.7 per cent after fourth-quarter earnings bested expectations and the company forecast higher profits in 2015 after a series of costly product launches in 2014.

ConocoPhillips advanced 0.4 per cent on news it cut its 2015 capital budget to US$11.5 billion from US$13.5 billion due to low oil prices. The smaller Occidental Petroleum gained 2.4 per cent following a similar announcement.

Other companies to report earnings included Colgate-Palmolive (+6.0 per cent), Dow Chemical (+4.6 per cent) and Facebook (+2.3 per cent).

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 1.76 per cent from 1.72 per cent Wednesday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.33 per cent from 2.29 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.