Wall St. extends pre-holiday rally as battered oil climbs

Wed Dec 23, 2015 6:58pm EST
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By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street rallied in pre-holiday trading on Wednesday, helped by surging energy shares as an unexpected drop in crude oil inventories lifted beaten-down oil prices.

U.S. Treasury yields rose and the dollar edged higher after a three-session losing streak, as investors digested mixed economic data.

With oil's 1-1/2-year slide worsening for most of this month, Wall Street's performance has been closely tied to the price of crude, raising some concerns that weakness in the commodity would derail typical year-end strength in stocks.

Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 rose 3.6 percent to $37.41 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled up 3.8 percent at $37.50 a barrel, although trading was thin.

U.S. crude inventories fell 5.88 million barrels to 484.78 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, compared with a forecast rise of 1.4 million barrels.

Shares of oil majors Exxon Mobil XOM.N and Chevron CVX.N each gained more than 3 percent, and the S&P energy sector .SPNY jumped 4.2 percent, its biggest one-day rise in about four months.

"It seems in the very short term here the market has been taking some cues from what is going on in oil, and so strength in oil today has probably been a plus," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 185.34 points, or 1.06 percent, to 17,602.61, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 25.32 points, or 1.24 percent, to 2,064.29 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 44.82 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,045.93.   Continued...

People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett