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US:Wall St opens higher as rising oil boosts energy stocks

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[WASHINGTON] US stocks opened higher on Thursday as oil rose for the first time this week, helping boost energy shares, and investors awaited the monthly jobs data on Friday.

At 1337 GMT, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 38.39 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 17,689.65, the S&P 500 was up 5.14 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 2,056.26 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.25 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 4,734.88.

Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent as a huge wildfire near Canada's oil sands region and escalating tensions in Libya stoked concerns among investors of a near-term shortage in supply.

Jobs data for April is expected to show that nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 202,000, after rising 215,000 in March. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 5 per cent.

The data is keenly watched as any signs of a strengthening labor market could influence the pace of future rate hikes. Traders, however, are pricing in only one increase later this year.

An accommodative Federal Reserve and a recovery in oil prices have helped US stocks rebound from sharp losses at the start of the year. However, the rally lost momentum in the past two weeks, weighed down by underwhelming quarterly earnings and mixed economic data. "What we're seeing is a bit of a relief rally from oversold levels," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York. "The bulk of the earnings are behind us and now investors are looking ahead to the jobs report. There is an expectation that the economy and earnings are going to improve but that still needs to be proved." Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy index's 1.27 percent rise leading the gainers.

REUTERS