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US: Stocks rise on oil jump, Facebook profits

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rose solidly on Thursday with petroleum-linked shares jumping on higher oil prices and strong Facebook earnings lifting other large technology companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 125.18 points (0.79 per cent) at 16,069.64.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 10.41 (0.55 per cent) to 1,893.36, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 38.51 (0.86 per cent) to 4,506.68.

Oil prices rose on news of potential talks between Russia and OPEC producers to cut output, lifting beaten-down companies tied to the oil sector.

Dow member ExxonMobil rose 2.3 per cent, while oil-services company Baker Hughes jumped 5.6 per cent despite reporting a US$1 billion loss for the fourth quarter.

Facebook surged 15.5 per cent after reporting that fourth-quarter profits more than doubled to US$1.6 billion as booming subscriber counts and higher revenues from online advertisers boosted results.

The Facebook results also provided a bounce to other growth-oriented tech names such as Netflix and Google parent Alphabet, which jumped a respective 3.6 per cent and 4.4 per cent.

Stocks were a bit choppy, with all three indices veering briefly into negative territory during the session.

Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said market sentiment was mixed after Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy statement kept alive the odds of a March increase to interest rates.

"Even though the indices are up, there's still a negative overhang from the Fed not taking a March rate hike off the table," Mr James said.

Caterpillar climbed 4.7 per cent after forecasting earnings slightly better than expected in 2016 even as it reported a loss of US$87 million in the fourth quarter due to the commodity downturn.

Sports apparel maker Under Armour surged 22.6 per cent after beating fourth-quarter forecasts for earnings and revenues. Rival Nike rose 2.7 per cent.

Celgene tumbled 5.0 per cent after projecting first-quarter earnings of US$1.27 to US$1.30 per share, barely meeting analyst expectations for US$1.30 per share. Other biotech shares also fell, with Gilead Sciences losing 2.3 per cent and Biogen 2.7 per cent.

Ebay plummeted 12.5 per cent after projecting earnings and revenues below analyst expectations.

The market punished other companies that disappointed with earnings or outlooks: Abbott Laboratories, which makes nutrition and health care products, dropped 9.3 per cent; cloud-computing company ServiceNow slumped 15.7 per cent; and credit card company Discover Financial lost 8.0 per cent.

AFP