Stocks Move Higher in Early Trade

Stocks Move Higher in Early Trade

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are moving higher in early trading, adding to their gains from a day earlier. Oil companies rose more than the rest of the market as the price of crude continued to recover. The dollar continued to fall against other currencies. Investors are preparing for Friday's U.S. monthly jobs report, which could go a long way to determining whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates again next month.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,418 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,919 and the Nasdaq composite edged up 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,518.

RATE RETHINK: Investors are positioning themselves for Friday's payroll numbers. Economists surveyed by FactSet forecast that U.S. employers created 200,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.

Over the past couple of weeks, investors have scaled back expectations that the Fed will continue gradually raising interest rates amid signs that the global slowdown in growth is beginning to hurt the U.S. economy. On Wednesday, for example, the private ISM survey found U.S. services companies grew in January at the slowest rate in nearly two years.

ANALYST TAKE: "The Fed has ended up being boxed in and is finding itself at the mercy of external economic developments, such as the slowing Chinese economy," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

CURRENCIES: Diminished expectations of a March Fed rate hike have hit the dollar. The euro was up 0.8 percent at a three-month high of $1.12 while the dollar fell 0.4 percent to 116.95 yen.

OFF CAMERA: Mobile video camera maker GoPro plunged $1.41, or 13 percent, to $9.29 after the company reported a wider-than-expected fourth quarter loss.

ENERGY: The dollar's retreat was helping oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.03 to $33.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped 8 percent on Wednesday in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, rose 64 cents to $35.68.