NEW YORK – U.S. stocks are mostly rising Thursday, led by gains in energy companies. Prices for crude oil and natural gas are both recovering from steep plunges the day before.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 61 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,827 as of 2:24 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,852. The Nasdaq composite fell 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,461.

Stocks were on pace for far bigger gains earlier in the day. The Dow was up 272 points shortly after noon.

ENERGY STOCKS: Oil and gas stocks climbed after a plunge a day earlier. Natural gas company Southwestern Energy jumped after saying it will eliminate around 1,100 jobs in the next few months. Its shares added 89 cents, or 12.1 percent, to $8.27 and pipeline company Kinder Morgan rose $1.65, or 13.7 percent, to $13.66. Coal and natural gas company Consol Energy surged 85 cents, or 16.9 percent, to $5.93.

OIL GAINS: U.S. crude rose $1.23, or 4.3 percent, to $29.58 a barrel in New York. On Wednesday U.S. crude took its biggest one-day loss since September. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.39, or 5 percent, to $29.27 a barrel in London.

LITTLE RECOVERY: On Wednesday the price of oil suffered its worst one-day drop since September and stocks skidded. The S&P 500 index closed at its lowest level in almost two years, and the Nasdaq was at its lowest value in more than a year.

MORE STIMULUS? Stocks got a lift after European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said Thursday the ECB will consider using more stimulus measures at its next meeting in March as it tries to bolster the European economy. The prospect of more stimulus sent the euro down to $1.0883 from $1.0894 late Wednesday.

The ECB has been buying government-backed bonds, and the yields on 10-year Treasury notes backed by European countries dropped following Draghi’s remarks. That suggests investors expect government bond prices to rise.

THE QUOTE: David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management, said the ECB is responding to the current turmoil in the markets while the Fed wants to keep raising interest rates and Chinese economic policy seems to be in disarray.

But he thinks the market could get another lift next week if the Fed acknowledges the turbulent state of the markets at its January meeting. The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade in December, and Lefkowitz said investors are hoping for signs the Fed plans to go slowly.

“At least one of the major central banks is willing to be … more pragmatic and recognize that when facts change, you may need to revisit your policies,” he said.

TELECOM RISES: Telecom stocks rose after Verizon, the largest U.S. cellphone carrier, reported better-than-expected results in the fourth quarter. Verizon said it turned a profit in the fourth quarter and held on to more customers. Its shares gained $1.32, or 3 percent, to $45.74. AT&T shares rose 54 cents to $34.44.

BUYING MOOD: Consumer stocks also gained ground. E-commerce giant Amazon picked up $6.18, or 1.1 percent, to $577.95. Department store operator Nordstrom rose $1.49, or 3.2 percent, to $47.59 and Home Depot gained $3.34, or 2.9 percent, to $119.80.

RAILROADS NOT WORKIN’: Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter profit and revenue fell far short of Wall Street estimates. CEO Lance Fritz said the uncertainty in energy and commodity markets and the strong U.S. dollar will continue to affect the railroad’s business this year. The stock lost $2.50, or 3.4 percent, to $71.11.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $1.04 a gallon. Heating oil jumped 5 cents, or 5.6 percent, to 91 cents a gallon. Natural gas gained 4 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $2.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.

SALLIE MAE-OK: Student loan company SLM Corp., or Sallie Mae, reported a larger than expected profit in the fourth quarter. Its shares jumped 63 cents, or 11.6 percent, to $6.04.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.8 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 1.9 percent and France’s CAC gained 2 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.8 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite sank 3.2 percent.

METALS: The price of gold fell $8 to $1,098.20 an ounce and silver declined 6.6 cents to $14.094 an ounce. Copper rose 3.7 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.997 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.54 yen from 116.78 yen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.02 percent.


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