Bulls chalk one up after late-day surge on Wall St.

Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:33pm EST
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By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks mounted a late-session rally to close higher on Wednesday after an increase in oil prices helped reduce investors' fears about banks' vulnerability to energy companies struggling to pay their debts.

Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors rose, with the materials index .SPLRCM up 0.99 percent.

The S&P energy sector .SPNY gained 0.9 percent, trimming its loss in 2016 to 27 percent after U.S. crude futures settled nearly 1 percent higher.

Crude prices near 2003 lows have hammered the earnings of U.S. energy companies, exacerbated fears of a slowing global economy and created turbulence on Wall Street that has left the S&P 500 almost 6 percent weaker since the start of the year.

The three major indexes moved higher toward the end of the day after trading deep in negative territory.

"You have a tremendous amount of underperformance out there in the hedge fund community," said Ian Winer, director of trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "When the market starts to turn, it starts to feed on itself because people can't afford to miss out on a rally."

The S&P financial sector .SPSY, already the worst performing sector this year, fell 0.2 percent, with shares of Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote) down 1.02 percent.

JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote) ended flat after it flagged declining investment banking revenue and raised its provisions for energy loan losses.   Continued...

Traders work inside a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid