US stocks jump on higher oil prices, Pfizer deal

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow on Thursday finished more than 200 points higher on surging oil prices and merger activity and as investors awaited Friday's closely watched US jobs report.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,878.91, up 205.89 points (1.16 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 20.80 (1.02 per cent) to 2,062.31, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 48.39 (1.03 per cent) to 4,765.10.

US oil prices gained more than 4 per cent to close above US$50 a barrel, lifting petroleum stocks.

Dow member ExxonMobil climbed 1 per cent, while oil-services giant Halliburton added 2.2 per cent.

Dow member Pfizer gained 2.9 per cent on news that its US$17 billion (S$22.8 billion) deal to buy Hospira would add a new portfolio of sterile injectable treatments and biosimilar drugs to Pfizer's broad pharma offerings.

Friday's jobs report for January is expected to show the US economy added 235,000 jobs, a slowdown from December, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 per cent.