By the Associated Press
Technology companies and banks helped power U.S. stocks to solid gains Wednesday, improving on the market’s flat finish a day earlier.
Energy stocks led the gainers after the price of crude oil climbed back above $70 a barrel a day after the U.S. moved to withdraw from a nuclear accord with Iran. Gains in industrial and materials companies outweighed losses in safe-play sectors such as utilities and phone companies.
“The areas of strength that you’re seeing today are encouraging,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “Energy, financials, materials and industrials. Those are more cyclical areas of the market, and that speaks to economic strength and a risk appetite on the part of investors.”
The S&P 500 index rose 25.87 points, or 1 percent, to 2,697.79. The gain nudged the benchmark index into positive territory for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its fifth gain in a row, climbing 182.33 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,542.54.
The Nasdaq added 73 points, or 1 percent, to 7,339.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 9.66 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,596.05.
The indexes are on track to end the week with solid gains. They were moving higher for much of the morning as investors weighed the latest corporate quarterly results.
While technology companies helped drive the market higher, energy sector stocks racked up the biggest gain as crude oil prices rebounded a day after the Trump administration moved to withdraw the U.S. from a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and reinstate sanctions on the country.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $2.08, or 3 percent, to settle at $71.14 per barrel in New York. That’s the highest level in nearly three and a half years. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained $2.36, or 3.2 percent, to close at $77.21 per barrel in London.
The pickup in oil prices sent energy stocks higher. Occidental Petroleum rose 5.4 percent to $82.40.