U.S. stocks gain in Monday trading as crude oil rises

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose in afternoon trading Monday, led by gains in energy companies as the price of crude oil increased sharply. Marathon Oil climbed nearly 5 percent and offshore driller Transocean rose 3.6 percent. Major U.S. stock indexes have fallen for three weeks in a row.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 176 points, or 1 percent, to 17,711 at 2:03 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 20 points, or 1 percent, to 2,067. The Nasdaq composite gained 60 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,777.

OIL JUMP: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.49, or 3.2 percent, to $47.70 a barrel following news of continued production troubles in Nigeria and an upbeat forecast from Goldman Sachs. Analysts at the investment bank said the crude market has gone from oversupply to a “deficit” much earlier than it had expected. They expect the U.S. crude to rise to about $50 a barrel in the second half of this year. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added $1.05 to $48.88 per barrel in London.

THE QUOTE: “If it’s oil making headline news, stocks will trade off of oil,” said Anna Rathbun, director of research for investment manager CBIZ Retirement Plan Services. She said she is skeptical there will be any “long-term rally” in stocks because companies are struggling to increase earnings.

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BUFFETT BUYS APPLE: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 9.8 million Apple shares in the first quarter, a stake now worth nearly $1 billion, as the tech giant traded near its lowest price in almost two years, according to regulatory documents released Monday. Apple rose $3.33, or 3.7 percent, to $93.84.

ENERGY BOOST: Memorial Resource Development rose 75 cents, or nearly 6 percent, to $14.20 per share after natural gas company Range Resources said it would buy it for $3.3 billion. Range Resources plunged $3.38, or 8 percent, to $38.63.

DRUG DEAL: Anacor Pharmaceuticals rocketed 55 percent to $99.44, a gain of $35.43, after drug giant Pfizer announced a deal to buy the maker of eczema treatment for $5.2 billion. Pfizer was mostly unchanged at $33.27.

PAPER CHASE: Tribune Publishing soared $2.59, or 22 percent, to $14.06 after USA Today owner Gannett raised its offer to buy the rival newspaper publisher. Gannett increased its bid to $15 per Tribune share, up from $12.25. Gannett rose 2.2 percent.

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EUROPE’S DAY: Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.2 percent while the CAC-40 in France slipped 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX was closed for a holiday.

CHINESE WEAKNESS: A report over the weekend showed that industrial production growth in China slipped to a year-on-year rate of 6 percent in April from 6.8 percent the previous month, adding to fears of a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy.

ANALYST TAKE: The report “paints an altogether gloomier picture,” said David Cheetham, market analyst at XTB. He said the report is worrisome given that China “poured a record amount of fresh credit into the economy for the first quarter.”

FED FOCUS: U.S. interest rate policy is expected to be a driver in financial markets this week. In addition to planned remarks from several Fed officials, traders will also be monitoring Wednesday’s release of minutes from the last meeting of the Fed policymakers.

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ASIA’S DAY: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines rose.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.75 percent from 1.70 percent. The dollar rose to 109.06 yen from 108.63 yen and the euro rose to $1.1320 from $1.307.

METALS: Precious and industrial metals prices closed higher. Gold gained $1.50 to $1,274.20 an ounce, silver rose two cents to $17.15 an ounce and copper added two cents to $2.09 a pound.