Stocks Higher in Midday Trading

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are rising Wednesday afternoon, led by gains in energy stocks as the price of oil jumped. Apple rose after the tech giant reported another record quarter and robust sales of iPhones.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 115 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,696 as of 12:19 p.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 15 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,081. The Nasdaq composite index rose 36 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,066.

ENERGY: The price of crude oil rose sharply after Pemex, the national oil company of Mexico, said it received permission to swap crude oil with the U.S. That could represent a step toward ending the U.S.'s ban on exporting crude.

U.S. crude climbed $2.50, or 5.8 percent, to $45.70 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose $2.16, or 4.6 percent, to $48.97 a barrel in London. The price of oil had been sliding since early October.

Chevron rose $2.07, or 2.4 percent, to $89.77 and Occidental Petroleum stock added $3.49, or 5 percent, to $73.69.

GAINERS: Northrop Grumman surged $10.61, or 5.9 percent, to $191.21 after the defense contractor said it received a contract worth up to $80 billion to build new bombers for the Air Force. Northrop Grumman stockhas been trading at all-time highs.

Apple gained $3.04, or 2.7 percent, to $117.59 after the tech giant reported another quarter of record earnings, boosted by surging sales in China. Apple made its report late Tuesday, and it also forecast healthy iPhone sales during the upcoming holidays.

AIG advanced $1.77, or 2.9 percent, to $69.29 after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he's taken a "large" stake in the company. Icahn said the insurance conglomerate should split into three separate businesses. Icahn said his view has support from some other major shareholders.

THE BIG PICTURE: Stocks moved steadily higher Wednesday after a sluggish start to the week. The Federal Reserve isn't expected to raise interest rates at its meeting that concludes later Wednesday, but investors will pore over its policy statement as they try to get more information about the Fed's view of the U.S. economy and its plans for future interest rate moves.

Kevin Mahn, chief investment officer of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management, said investors "want to hear a greater level of comfort from the Fed in the U.S. economy."

FAIL WHALE: Twitter's stock took a hit after its earnings showed meager user growth. The messaging company gave a disappointing outlook, projecting revenue that's about $40 million less than analysts expected. Shares of Twitter retreated $1.94, or 6.2 percent, to $29.40.

Cloud service provider Akamai Technologies plunged on disappointing guidance. Its stock gave up $13.51, or 17.9 percent, to $62.04.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.06 percent. The dollar was little changed at 120.52 yen and the euro rose to $1.1067 from $1.1040.

(BAS)