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Stocks climb as energy bounces back from big loss

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    U.S. and European stocks edged higher today.

NEW YORK » U.S. stocks are climbing Thursday, led by big gains for energy companies. The broader market as well as prices for crude oil and natural gas are both recovering from steep plunges the day before. Telecom stocks also rose after Verizon reported strong fourth-quarter results.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 253 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,019 as of 12:41 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 29 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,887. The Nasdaq composite picked up 57 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,528.

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 $1.24, or 16.8 percent, to $8.62 and pipeline company Kinder Morgan rose $2.41, or 20.1 percent, to $14.42.

OIL GAINS: U.S. crude rose $1.37, or 4.8 percent, to $29.71 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 $1.45, or 5.2 percent, to $29.33.

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 $1.0841 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 $1.53, or 3.4 percent, to $45.95. AT&T shares rose 85 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $34.75.

FEELING BETTER: Health care stocks also traded higher. Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare added 75 cents, or 3 percent, to $25.44 and competitor HCA Holdings rose $1.86, or 3 percent, to $64.69.

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 $2.99, or 4.1 percent, to $70.62.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $1.04 a gallon. Heating oil jumped 5 cents, or 5.6 percent, to 91 cents a gallon. Natural gas gained 4 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $2.15 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 66 cents, or 12.2 percent, to $6.07.

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

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.57 yen from 116.78 yen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.02 percent.

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