KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,588 as of 12:18 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,048. The Nasdaq composite index lost 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,843.
Coming off their biggest loss in six weeks, stocks started the day with big gains. Early in the day, the Dow rose as much as 152 points.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $2.25, or 6 percent, to $39.51 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $2.26, or 5.7 percent, to $41.69 a barrel in London. The price of wholesale gasoline climbed 4 percent, and heating oil rose 6 percent.
Chevron rose $1.50, or 1.6 percent, to $96.29. ConocoPhillips picked up $1.12, or 2.8 percent, to $41.43, and Murphy Oil advanced $1.25, or 5.1 percent, to $25.69.
FALLING INTO THE GAP: Gap plunged $3.73, or 13.5 percent, to $23.96 after it said all three of its big chains saw their sales drop in March. The company behind Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic also said its levels of product inventory are high, which could lead to bigger discounts that will hurt its profits.
The weak results hurt companies that sell everything from clothing for teens to handbags, and department-store chains. Macy’s gave up 88 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $39.74. Coach fell $1.15, or 2.9 percent, to $39.16. Under Armour lost $1.66, or 3.7 percent, to $42.75.
FEELING NO PAIN: Pain-drug maker Depomed is rising after activist investment firm Starboard Value disclosed a 9.8 percent stake in the company, making it one of Depomed’s largest shareholders. Last year, Horizon Pharma tried to buy Depomed for about $1.1 billion, or $33 per share, but Depomed fended off that effort and Horizon dropped it in November. Depomed’s stock jumped $1.70, or 11.3 percent, to $16.70.
BIOTECH BLIP: Biotech drug companies are falling. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals lost $12.81, or 3.1 percent, to $405.67, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals shed $1.82, or 2.1 percent, to $84.48. Biogen declined $5, or 1.8 percent, to $268.04.
Biotech stocks logged their biggest gain in almost five years on Wednesday, but they have suffered big losses since July.
MAKING GLASS: Specialty glass maker Corning said it will buy optical components maker Alliance Fiber Optic Products for $18.50 per share, or $305 million. Alliance stock surged $2.99, or 19.3 percent, to $18.45. Corning dipped 11 cents to $20.55.
GOODBYE: Ruby Tuesday tumbled 70 cents, or 13.4 percent, to $4.52. The restaurant chain’s earnings were disappointing, and it cut its forecasts. The company also said its chief financial officer will leave the company.
MINNESOTA NICE: Clothing and tools supplier Duluth Holdings rose $4.03, or 22.6 percent, to $21.85 after reporting its fiscal fourth-quarter results.
WD-40 SLIPS: Maintenance and cleaning products company WD-40 sank after it reported disappointing quarterly sales. The stock gave up $5.91, or 5.5 percent, to $101.13.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.73 percent from 1.69 percent. The dollar rose to 108.44 yen from 108.24 yen. The euro inched up to $1.1405 from $1.1377.
OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe also rallied. France’s CAC 40 rose 1.4 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain climbed 1.1 percent. Germany’s DAX added 1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index finished 0.5 percent higher. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent.