Energy Stocks Lead Early Gains

Energy Stocks Lead Early Gains

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were moderately higher for a third straight day on Wednesday, once again helped by higher oil prices, which lifted shares in oil and gas companies.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 121 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,537 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 13 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,052 and the Nasdaq composite rose 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,028.

ENERGY: Oil prices rose for a third day, bouncing back from 11-year lows earlier in the week, which helped lift the battered energy sector.

U.S. crude futures jumped 96 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $37.12 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added 80 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $36.91 a barrel in London.

Murphy Oil rose 98 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $23.27, ConocoPhillips rose $1.37, or 3 percent, to $47.68 and Halliburton was up $1.02, or 3 percent, to $35.03. Overall, the S&P 500 energy sector is up more than 3 percent just this week.

JUST DO IT: Nike shares were down 26 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $131.75, despite the company reporting fiscal second-quarter results that easily beat analysts' expectations. The sportswear and shoe company reported earnings of 90 cents per share, versus the 86 cents a share expected by analysts.

ON VACATION: Wednesday is the last full day of trading for U.S. and European markets, with most markets closing early on Thursday for Christmas Eve. Markets are closed for Christmas. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market will close at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.27 percent. The dollar slipped to 120.91 yen from 121.04 yen a day earlier. The euro edged lower to $1.0905 from $1.0952.