US stocks brush off first wobble of the year to climb again

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks recovered from their first wobble of the year and climbed on Thursday. Energy stocks led the way after oil climbed to its highest price since 2014.

The gains for indexes marked a return to calm for markets, which got a whiff of nervousness a day earlier after interest rates climbed. Rates held steady Thursday, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was on pace for its seventh gain in the last eight days.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up nearly 9 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,757, as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 107 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,477, the Nasdaq composite gained 24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,178 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks climbed 18 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,577.

RATES AT ROOT OF CONCERNS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.56 percent, the same level it was at late Wednesday.

Rates have been at center stage in recent days following the 10-year yield’s climb from 2.40 percent early in the year. It got as high as 2.59 percent on Wednesday before falling back later in the day.

China’s foreign exchange regulator challenged a report from Wednesday that had helped drive up yields, which said China may slow or halt purchases of U.S. Treasurys. A U.S. government report on Thursday also showed that inflation was weaker on the wholesale level last month than economists expected. Weak inflation would likely result in rates staying relatively low.

Investors say they’re prepared for a gradual rise in rates, but a quick jump could easily jolt markets out of the calm, upward ride they’ve been on.

BIGGEST GAINERS: Energy stocks jumped after the price of oil climbed above $64 per barrel.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 81 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $64.38 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 54 cents to $69.74per barrel.

That helped drive energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 1.6 percent gain, the largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Apache and Marathon Oil had two of the biggest gains among the stocks that make up the index. Apache gained $1.98, or 4.5 percent, to $45.97, and Marathon rose 80 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $18.70.

CALM RIDE: The stock market has repeatedly shrugged off concerns through its placid ride to records. Whether investors are worried about a pickup in rates in the future or about how stocks have become more expensive than they’ve historically been relative to corporate profits, any dip for the market…

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