NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks finished a volatile session higher on Thursday, as a jump in oil prices lifted beaten-down petroleum shares and boosted investor sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115.94 points (0.74 per cent) to 15,882.68.
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 9.66 (0.52 per cent) to 1,868.99, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added a scant 0.37 (0.01 per cent) at 4,472.06.
The gains were a welcome shift after the battering Wednesday that pushed leading US indices as much as 3.5 per cent lower. They came on the heels of rallies in European stocks after the European Central Bank hinted at new stimulus in March.
US oil prices jumped 4.2 per cent to US$29.53 a barrel, a move partly seen as a technical bounce Wednesday's sharp decline to a 12-year low.
Dow members Chevron and ExxonMobil rose 2.6 per cent and 1.6 per cent. Smaller producers such as Apache and Marathon Oil, surged 7.6 per cent and 11.8 per cent.
Still, trade was choppy, with the Nasdaq briefly falling into negative territory in the afternoon and the Dow and S&P 500 ending well below session peaks.
"There's a lot of damage on the tape and I want to be sure the lows made yesterday afternoon hold, before we get too excited and buy things," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.
"It's nothing really to get that excited about that oil bounced a dollar."
US-listed Chinese stocks rose, with Alibaba climbing 2.9 per cent, Baidu 2.8 per cent and Weibo 1.3 per cent.
Verizon rose 3.3 per cent as it reported US$5.5 billion (S$7.8 billion) in fourth-quarter earnings, compared with a loss of US$2.1 billion a year ago, besting expectations. The telecom giant expects 2016 earnings comparable to those of 2015.
Railroad Union Pacific slid 3.6 per cent after reporting fourth-quarter earnings fell to US$1.1 billion as business volumes declined 9 per cent.
United Airlines rose 0.5 per cent after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of US$823 million, much above the US$28 million in the year-ago period. United also announced an order for 40 new 737-700 aircraft from Boeing worth about US$3.2 billion. Boeing rose 1 per cent.