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US: Big jump in oil prices lifts stocks


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished higher on Wednesday following a big jump in oil prices that lifted most petroleum-linked shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 36.26 points (0.21 per cent) to 17,000.36.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 10.00 (0.51 per cent) to 1,989.26, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 25.55 (0.55 per cent) to 4,674.38.

The benchmark US crude oil price climbed to its highest level in more than three months after the weekly US petroleum inventory report showed an unexpectedly large decline in gasoline stocks.

Anadarko Petroleum and driller Nabors Resources both gained 2.4 per cent, while Marathon Oil jumped 3.6 per cent. Dow member Chevron jumped 4.6 per cent on positive analyst commentary after it confirmed a strong dividend.

Technology shares were generally higher, with Facebook rising 1.3 per cent, Google parent Alphabet 1.4 per cent and Microsoft 2.0 per cent. Apple dipped 0.1 per cent.

Nike was the biggest loser in the Dow, shedding 2.5 per cent. Some analysts attributed the drop to the weak performance of sports apparel retailers, including Sports Authority, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

Under Armour, another maker of sports gear, lost 1.2 per cent.

Fashion chain Express gained 3.3 per cent as fourth-quarter earnings rose 34.2 per cent to US$56.1 million following a five percent rise in net sales.

Chipotle Mexican Grill dropped 3.4 per cent on news it shut temporarily a restaurant in Massachusetts after four employees became sick. Chipotle told Bloomberg that no customers fell ill and that the restaurant would reopen on Thursday. The episode follows other health-safety problems at the chain.

Blue Buffalo Pet Products, which makes organic pet food, surged 22.4 per cent as it projected full-year earnings of 72 to 74 cents per share, better than the 70 cents expected by analysts.

Darden Restaurants climbed 3.6 per cent after projecting third-quarter earnings of between US$1.18 and US$1.21 per share, better than the US$1.06 expected by analysts.


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