S&P 500 closes at highest level since November

A day ahead of the monthly jobs report, the S&P hit a seven-month high with the Nasdaq posting its seventh day of gains.

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street erased early losses on Thursday to push the S&P 500 to its highest finish since November.

Industrial blue chips like DuPont and Caterpillar led the gains, which come a day before the May US jobs report which could set the tone for interest-rate increase plans by the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.3 per cent at 17,838.56.

The broad-market S&P 500 added 0.3 per cent at 2,105.26, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4 per cent to 4,971.36.

The reversal of early losses was helped by a rebound in crude prices, which were sharply lower as the market opened after Opec failed to take action at its Vienna meeting to strengthen the crude market.

After the weekly US petroleum report showed a fall in stockpiles, crude prices rebounded, pulling oil stocks like ExxonMobil and Chevron up from their lows - though the sector still finished down for the day.

"No real big move. We really fell into lockstep with energy prices," said Art Hogan of Wunderlich Securities.

"Energy was lower and rebounded and closed in positive territory, so we're just higher with that. We rallied a bit but nothing monumental."

Silicon Valley software giant Oracle sank 4 per cent after a former accountant filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging the company told her to artificially pump up cloud-computing sales data.

Alibaba added 0.8 percent after Wednesday's 7 per cent plunge on news that its main shareholder SoftBank was selling a US$7.9 billion stake in the Chinese online marketing powerhouse.

Yahoo, whose largest asset is its sizable stake in Alibaba, rose 1.4 per cent.

Viacom shares rose 1.4 per cent after a granddaughter of owner Sumner Redstone backed Viacom management in their battle with Redstone and his daughter over control of the company after the 93-year-old tycoon dies.