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US stocks climb as Oracle leads technology stocks higher; Oil falls after losing early gains

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday, led gains in by technology stocks as Oracle surged following a strong earnings report. Energy stocks lagged the market as the price of crude oil resumed its slide.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 35 points, or 1.7 percent, to 2,047 as of 1:51 p.m. Eastern. All ten sectors in the index rose.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 300 points, or 1.7 percent, to 17,657. The Nasdaq composite rose 86 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,730.

EARNINGS BEAT: Oracle posted better-than-expected results late Wednesday in its first quarterly report since co-founder Larry Ellison gave up the helm of the business software maker. The company reported that its software and cloud revenue grew 5 percent. The stock rose $3.62, or 8.8 percent, to $44.78.

FED SPARK: Stocks are building on a rally that was driven by steadying oil prices and comments from the Federal Reserve Wednesday after its last policy meeting of the year.

Stocks surged after the Fed said that while it was edging closer to raising interest rates from close to zero, it will be "patient" in deciding when to do so. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015.

PHOTO: An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank walks by a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Asian stock markets powered higher Thursday, sweeping aside worries about a flagging global economy after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would to remain "patient" in its approach to raising interest rates. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank walks by a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Asian stock markets powered higher Thursday, sweeping aside worries about a flagging global economy after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would to remain "patient" in its approach to raising interest rates. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

OIL RESUMES SLIDE: After starting the day higher, benchmark U.S. crude resumed its slide by mid-morning. The price of oil dropped 88 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $55.87 after rising as high as $58.71 in morning trading. Oil has plunged since June, when it peaked at $107 a barrel. Overproduction and weak demand are behind the fall in global oil prices. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, dropped 64 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.51 a barrel.

THE QUOTE: "The bottom line is that low oil is a net positive for the consumer," Karyn Cavanaugh, a senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management. "The consumer drives the U.S. economy, which drives the global economy, so that's good news."

DUBAI STOCKS RISE: Gulf stocks gained after a midweek drop. Dubai's main index closed 13 percent higher.

EUROPE'S DAY: France's CAC 40 jumped 3.4 percent and Germany's DAX surged 2.8 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 2 percent.

METALS: Prices for precious and industrial metals were little changed. Gold edged up 30 cents to $1,194.80 an ounce, silver was essentially unchanged at $15.93 an ounce and copper fell two cents to $2.85 a pound.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES. U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year government Treasury note, which rises as prices fall, climbed to 2.21 percent from 2.14 percent a day earlier.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.2274 from $1.2329 the previous day. The dollar edged higher against the Japanese yen, climbing to 118.92 yen from 118.83 yen.

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PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.   The market is opening sharply higher, building on gains from the day before after the Federal Reserve indicated it was in no rush to raise interest rates. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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