U.S. Stock Indexes Move Higher in Afternoon Trading; Oil Up

(AP) -
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Energy companies and retailers led U.S. stocks broadly higher in afternoon trading Thursday, putting the market on course for another record-high close. Investors welcomed the latest quarterly results from several big department store chains and other companies. Crude oil prices surged following a forecast that called for a more even balance between supply and demand this year.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 136 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,631 as of 1:05 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,187. The Nasdaq composite index gained 27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,231.

OIL: Crude oil prices were moving higher after the International Energy Agency said it expects that supply and demand for oil will be more in balance the rest of this year. The IEA also said projected that global oil demand won’t grow as much as it previously expected next year, citing a weaker global economy. The agency now expects demand to rise by 1.2 million barrels a day, slower than the 1.4 million barrels a day seen this year.

Benchmark U.S. crude was up $1.80, or 4.3 percent, at $43.51 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up $1.91, or 4.3 percent, at $45.96 in London.

THE QUOTE: “It’s been such an oversupplied market for a long period of time, to get that supply-demand closer to being in balance, or to be in balance, is a huge driver,” said David Chalupnik, head of equities for Nuveen Asset Management. “That should at least support the commodity price.”

ENERGIZED: Several oil and gas companies got a boost from the rise in crude prices. Murphy Oil climbed $1.03, or 3.8 percent, to $28.47, while Chesapeake Energy rose 23 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $5.03. Devon Energy added $1.85, or 4.7 percent, to $41.42.

BEATING THE STREET: Macy’s and Kohl’s surged after the department store chains reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street’s expectations despite continued competition from online outlets like Amazon.com. Macy’s also said it plans to close about 100 stores next year as it tries to become more nimble in a competitive market. The stock rose $5.70, or 16.8 percent, to $39.71. Shares in Kohl’s jumped $5.86, or 15.4 percent, to $43.90.

RETAILERS RISE: Investors bid up shares in several other retailers. Nordtsrom, which was due to report its latest quarterly results after the close of regular trading Thursday, gained $3.12, or 7.1 percent, to $47.35, while Gap added 91 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $24.95. J.C. Penney rose 76 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $9.91. The chain is scheduled to release earnings early Friday.

EATING IT UP: Brinker International jumped 12.8 percent after the owner of the Chili’s Bar & Grill and Maggiano’s Little Italy chains reported strong quarterly results. The company also said it will return more cash to shareholders by taking on new debt to buy back stock. Its shares rose $5.99 to $52.96.

SHAKEN: Hamburger chain Shake Shack slumped 5.8 percent after it said sales at older locations slowed down in the latest quarter. The stock shed $2.36 to $38.51.

MALL WOES: Some of the nation’s biggest mall and shopping center owners were trading lower. General Growth Properties fell $1.30, or 4.2 percent, to $29.42, while Simon Property Group shed $5.49, or 2.5 percent, at $213.49. Kimco Realty slid 72 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $30.35.

LAYOFFS PROXY: Applications for new unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 266,000. The decline suggests employers are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their staffs. Weekly applications have been below 300,000 for 75 straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1970.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.9 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was up 1.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.7 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 0.4 percent higher, while China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.5 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI edged up 0.2 percent. Japan’s stock exchange was closed for a holiday.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.55 percent from 1.50 late Wednesday. In currency markets, the dollar strengthened to 101.59 yen from 101.29 on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1157 from $1.1175.