Stocks Higher at Midday as Oil Rebounds, Banks Rise

(AP) -
A trader works in his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A trader works in his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

A strong rebound in oil prices and a government report indicating that retail sales improved last month helped lift U.S. stocks sharply higher in midday trading Friday. Financial and energy companies were among the biggest gainers as the stock market looked for its first gain in a week. Investors also had their eyes on the latest batch of company earnings news.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 232 points, or 1.5 percent, to 15,892 as of 12:09 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 26 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,855. The Nasdaq composite added 48 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,315.

THE QUOTE: “Oil, which has been one of the most fickle, most volatile series that everybody’s watching, is having a nice day,” said Tim Dreiling, regional investment director for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. “Europe is continuing to look good. And it looked like (the market) was oversold.”

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up $2.76, or 10.5 percent, to $28.97 a barrel in electronic trading in New York. The contract tumbled to $26.21 on Thursday, its lowest level since May 2003. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained $2.66, or 8.8 percent, to $32.72 a barrel in London.

PUMPED UP: Marathon Oil climbed 7.1 percent as the price of crude oil rebounded. The stock was the best performer in the energy sector, adding 50 cents to $7.51.

BANK REBOUND: Several banking stocks bounced back from a sector-wide slide on Thursday. JPMorgan Chase climbed $4.05, or 7.6 percent, to $57.12, while Citigroup added $2.59, or 7.4 percent, to $37.57. Bank of America rose 74 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $11.90.

BUYBACK BOOST: Deutsche Bank AG surged 11 percent after the bank offered to buy back more than $5 billion in bonds in a display of financial strength. The stock gained $1.71 to $17.22.

GOOD DEAL: Groupon vaulted 26 percent after the online daily deal service’s latest quarterly profit and revenue topped Wall Street estimates. The stock added 58 cents to $2.82.

VISA EFFECT: Investors bid up shares in Square after Visa disclosed an ownership stake of almost 10 percent in the mobile payment services company. Square rose 59 cents, or 6.9 percent, to $9.21.

ROCKY ROAD: The stock market has ended lower five consecutive days. Global stocks have been in a slump since the beginning of the year on concerns that growth in China, which has been the engine of the global economy in recent years, is slowing far faster than expected. Plunging oil prices and low inflation have added to the market’s jitters that the global economy is sputtering.

GOING SHOPPING: The Commerce Department said that retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in January, the same as the previous month. The modest gain is evidence that consumers kept shopping despite sharp drops in stock prices, and it was better than the 0.1 percent economists had expected. Excluding the effect of falling gas prices, sales rose 0.4 percent.

OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 2.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was up 2.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 3.1 percent. In Asia, Japan’s main stock index fell sharply, leading other Asian markets lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 plunged 4.8 percent after earlier sinking as much as 5.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gave up 1.4 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent. Shares in New Zealand and Southeast Asia also fell. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed all week for Lunar New Year holidays and will reopen on Monday.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.73 percent from 1.66 percent late Thursday. In currency markets, the dollar rose to 113.01 yen from 112.27, while the euro fell to $1.1231 from $1.1330.