Energy companies led U.S. stocks slightly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday as the price of oil recovered from an early slide. Investors were also weighing the latest company earnings and deal news. Consumer staples companies lagged the rest of the market.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,127 as of 1:22 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added five points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,105. The Nasdaq composite index gained 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,952.
THE QUOTE: After several weeks of moving in different directions, the stock market appears to be getting more closely tied to the fluctuations in oil prices.
“Oil is what’s been driving the market lately,” said Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets.
ENERGY FOCUS: Climbing oil and natural gas prices helped lift shares in several energy companies. Williams Cos. rose 82 cents, or 4.6 percent, at $18.83, while Devon Energy gained $1.39, or 4.1 percent, at $35.01. Murphy Oil added 85 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $31.32.
CHARGE IT: Discover Financial Services climbed 7.5 percent after the credit card issuer and lender reported better-than-anticipated quarterly profit and sales as loan volume improved. The stock gained $3.93 to $56.48.
STRONG QUARTER: VMWare jumped 13.6 percent after the cloud-computing company reported better-than-expected earnings. The stock climbed $7.01 to $58.47.
PRINT IT: Lexmark International surged 9.7 percent after the printer maker agreed to be bought by a group that includes Apex Technology and PAG Asia Capital for about $2.51 billion. The stock added $3.36 to $38.02.
FOR SALE: Yahoo rose 3.7 percent a day after the Internet pioneer said that it is considering the sale of part or all of its Internet business. The news overshadowed its latest quarterly loss. The stock added $1.33 to $37.66.
NO FIZZ: Coca-Cola slid 4.2 percent after the world’s biggest beverage maker reported a lower profit for the first quarter. The company was squeezed by a strong dollar and charges related to the transformation of its North American operations. Coca-Cola fell $1.97 to $44.63.
NOT RECOMMENDED: Angie’s List slid 6.2 percent after the online ratings service reported an unexpected loss and disappointing sales in the first quarter. The stock lost 48 cents to $8.23.
ENERGY: U.S. crude reversed an early morning slide. It was up $1.25, or 3 percent, at $42.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up $1.74, or 4 percent, at $45.77 a barrel in London.
OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent, while the CAC-40 of France gained 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares added 0.1 percent. Earlier in Asia, most markets closed lower. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.9 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.2 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.81 from 1.78 late Tuesday. In currency markets, the euro fell to $1.1322 from $1.1377, while the dollar rose to 109.71 yen from 109.13.