US stocks rise on oil gain, jobs data

NEW YORK (AFP) - Petroleum-linked shares led Wall Street stocks higher on Wednesday, building on a big rally in the prior session as oil prices rose a third straight day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 34.24 points (0.2 per cent) to 16,899.32.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.10 (0.41 per cent) to 1,986.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 13.83 (0.29 per cent) to 4,703.42.

US stocks were in the red much of the session, but pushed higher after oil prices gained, analysts said.

"Oil reversed and that still seems the name of the game," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

Payroll firm ADP reported that US private sector businesses added 214,000 jobs in February, better than the 190,000 expected by analysts.

Most petroleum-linked equities gained, with especially large increases from Apache, up 8.7 per cent, and Marathon Oil, up 14.3 per cent.

ExxonMobil rose 1.8 per cent as it cut its 2016 capital budget by 25 per cent and said it halted final investment decisions on a number of big projects.

Banking shares pushed higher. Bank of America rose 2.1 per cent, Citigroup 2.3 per cent and Wells Fargo 1.7 per cent.

American Water Works vaulted 5.3 per cent on news it will be added to the S&P 500 index after Thursday's session.

Agricultural giant Monsanto fell 7.8 per cent as it slashed its profit forecast for 2016, citing the effects of the strong dollar, weak commodity prices and a delay in US regulatory approval of the dicamba herbicide.

Ross Stores climbed 2.7 per cent as fourth-quarter net income rose 6 per cent to US$264 million (S$368 million) behind a 4 per cent rise in comparable store sales.