NEW YORK (AFP) - Gains by petroleum-linked equities lifted Wall Street stocks on Thursday (Aug 18) but shares of private prison companies plummeted on news the US Justice Department will phase out use of their facilities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 per cent to 18,597.70.
The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.2 per cent to 2,187.02, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent to 5,240.15.
Dow member Chevron rose 1.3 per cent while Halliburton jumped 3 per cent as Brent North Sea crude closed above US$50 a barrel for the first time in nearly two months.
Corrections Corp of America plunged 35.5 per cent and The Geo Group 39.6 per cent as the government announced it would phase out the use of private prisons for federal inmates after investigations showed the facilities to be more dangerous and less cost-efficient than those in public hands.
Wal-Mart Stores rose 1.9 per cent after reporting an 8.6 per cent rise in earnings to US$3.8 billon (S$5 billion). Results were led by a strong performance in the retail giant's US stores. Wal-Mart also boosted its full-year forecast.
Caterpillar fell 1.2 per cent as it reported sharp sales declines in all three of its operating divisions in July, with machinery sales to resources companies down 42 per cent.
Motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson fell 1.7 per cent on news it agreed to pay US$15 million to settle Justice Department accusations that it made and sold illegal devices that increased air pollution from its bikes.
Twitter tumbled 5.8 per cent following a downgrade by Evercore.