U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, spurred by gains in the energy sector and speculation that upcoming first-quarter earnings reports might not be quite as bad as previously thought.
All 10 major S&P 500 sectors rose, with the energy index .SPNY up 1.89 percent. U.S. crude CLc1 jumped more than 4 percent after a lower-than-expected build of crude stockpiles in the United States.
Intel (INTC.O) jumped 4.5 percent to $32.91 after it said late on Tuesday it expects flat revenue for the entire year, despite some weakness in the first quarter.
Investors have feared that the March-quarter earnings season, just getting under way, would be hurt by low oil prices, a strong dollar and extreme weather in the eastern United States. First-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are seen dropping 2.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
But of the 36 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 81 percent beat expectations, better than the 63 percent of companies exceeding expectations in a typical quarter.
“Management has done a good job guiding market expectations to an appropriate level, and now they’re stepping over a lowered bar,” said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist and director of asset allocation at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta, Georgia. “Fundamentals in the equity market remain good.”
Delta Air Lines’ (DAL.N) first-quarter profit topped analysts’ expectations, one of many industrial and transportation companies that benefit from cheap oil and its derivatives. Its stock rose 1.7 percent to $43.82.
At 12:50 p.m. the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 64.26 points, or 0.36 percent, to 18,100.96, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 9.9 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,105.74 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 25.57 points, or 0.51 percent, to 5,002.85.
HCA Holdings’ (HCA.N) shares were up 2.52 percent at $79.29 after the hospital operator said it expects first-quarter results above analysts’ expectations.
Bank of America’s (BAC.N) shares were down 1.14 percent at $15.64. The No. 2 U.S. bank by assets’ first-quarter profit narrowly beat analysts’ estimates.
Video streaming company Netflix (NFLX.O) will report after the market close.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,061 to 928, for a 2.22-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,805 issues rose and 867 fell for a 2.08-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 15 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 74 new highs and 15 new lows.