US stocks swing higher as oil rallies

US stocks swung higher on Feb 24, 2016, as oil prices rebounded from steep falls.
US stocks swung higher on Feb 24, 2016, as oil prices rebounded from steep falls. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks swung higher Wednesday amid speculation that China will add stimulus to boost its slowing economy and as oil prices rebounded from steep falls.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.21 points (0.32 per cent) to 16,484.99.

The broad-market S&P 500 advanced 8.53 (0.44 per cent) to 1,929.80, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite was the strongest gainer, climbing 39.02 (0.87 per cent) to 4,542.61.

“Stocks made a low in the first half of the day and then came back nicely. There was a lot of talk of maybe additional China stimulus. Whether the story is true or not, I don’t know, but if it isn’t the market will back down in a day or two,” said Mace Blicksilver of Marblehead Asset Management.

Oil prices stabilised, with both US and Brent closing higher following Tuesday’s losses of more than four percent. A mixed US petroleum report showed commercial crude inventories climbed last week, but gasoline stockpiles fell more than expected.

Energy-related stocks turned higher. Dow oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron both rose 0.4 per cent.

JPMorgan reversed steep losses to finish flat, while both Bank of America and Citigroup slipped 0.3 per cent.

Caterpillar eked out a 0.2 per cent rise. Boeing pared losses to a 1.1 percent decline, and General Electric shed 0.9 per cent.

Chesapeake Energy registered a 22.8 per cent gain. The company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of US$22 billion (S$30 billion), and a 2015 loss of US$14.9 billion, and said it was slashing capital spending this year by 57 per cent from 2015 levels.

General Motors slid 1.8 per cent after Morgan Stanley rated the largest US automaker “underweight” and set a US$26 stock target.

Ford, the number-two automaker, lost 2.7 per cent. Credit Suisse downgraded it to an “underperform” rating as the brokerage firm “believes that auto volumes have reached a peak in the United States, which could mean either deterioration in pricing/margin or in volume,” said Chris Lange at 24/7 Wall St.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s rose 1.1 per cent after reporting solid fourth-quarter earnings and 5.6 per cent increase in sales.