Rally in oil shares lifts US stocks

NEW YORK (AFP) - A jump in petroleum-linked shares helped lift US stocks Tuesday after the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border sparked a rally in the oil market.

Dow member ExxonMobil gained 2 per cent while smaller oil producer Apache jumped 4.2 per cent as sharp words between Turkey and Russia over the incident raised the fear of an escalation in tensions that could potentially affect the oil-rich Middle East.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 19.51 points (0.11 per cent) at 17,812.19.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.55 (0.12 per cent) to 2,089.14, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.33 (0.01 per cent) to 5,102.81.

Government data upgraded US economic growth in the third quarter to 2.1 percent from the prior estimate of 1.5 per cent. On the downside, the Conference Board's read of consumer confidence tumbled to 90.4 in November from October, due mainly to consumers' less positive view of the jobs market.

Travel stocks retreated after the State Department late Monday issued a global advisory warning US citizens of "increased terrorist threats" in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Expedia fell 2.9 per cent, Priceline 1.9 per cent and TripAdvisor 2.2 per cent. United Continental dropped 3 per cent and Delta Air Lines lost 3.1 per cent.

Drug giants Pfizer and Allergan rose 2 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively, one day after unveiling their $160 billion mega-merger.

Cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks gained 6.3 per cent on news that revenue for the quarter ending Oct 31 grew 55 per cent to US$297.2 million.

Xerox dipped 1.3 per cent as activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 7.13 per cent stake in the company and said he planned to potentially seek board representation NXP Semiconductors climbed 6.1 per cent after announcing that US securities officials cleared its proposed sale of its RP Power business to Jianguang Asset Management for US$1.8 billion.