Stocks Climbing Midday Thursday

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks recovered from their first wobble of the year and climbed on Thursday. Energy stocks led the way after oil climbed to its highest price since 2014.

The gains for indexes marked a return to calm for markets, which got a whiff of nervousness a day earlier after interest rates climbed. Rates held steady Thursday, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was on pace for its seventh gain in the last eight days.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up nearly 9 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,757, as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 107 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,477, the Nasdaq composite gained 24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,178 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks climbed 18 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,577.

RATES AT ROOT OF CONCERNS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.56 percent, the same level it was at late Wednesday.

Rates have been at center stage in recent days following the 10-year yield's climb from 2.40 percent early in the year. It got as high as 2.59 percent on Wednesday before falling back later in the day.

China's foreign exchange regulator challenged a report from Wednesday that had helped drive up yields, which said China may slow or halt purchases of U.S. Treasurys. A U.S. government report on Thursday also showed that inflation was weaker on the wholesale level last month than economists expected. Weak inflation would likely result in rates staying relatively low.

Investors say they're prepared for a gradual rise in rates, but a quick jump could easily jolt markets out of the calm, upward ride they've been on.

BIGGEST GAINERS: Energy stocks jumped after the price of oil climbed above $64 per barrel.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 81 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $64.38 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 54 cents to $69.74per barrel.

That helped drive energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 1.6 percent gain, the largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Apache and Marathon Oil had two of the biggest gains among the stocks that make up the index. Apache gained $1.98, or 4.5 percent, to $45.97, and Marathon rose 80 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $18.70.

CALM RIDE: The stock market has repeatedly shrugged off concerns through its placid ride to records. Whether investors are worried about a pickup in rates in the future or about how stocks have become more expensive than they've historically been relative to corporate profits, any dip for the market over the last year has been shallow and short.

That's rewarded investors who have repeatedly "bought the dip" and seen every wobble in prices as a buying opportunity. The next test for the market may arrive in coming weeks as companies report how much profit they made in the last three months of 2017.

Businesses will need to produce big numbers to justify the gains their stocks have made, and expectations are also high that CEOs will unveil encouraging profit forecasts for 2018 after Washington cut their income-tax rates.

MARKETS ABROAD: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent, South Korea's Kospi retreated 0.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged 0.2 percent higher.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent, France's CAC 40 was down 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX dipped 0.8 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 111.42 Japanese yen from 111.35 yen late Wednesday, and the euro rose to $1.2044 from $1.1957.

COMMODITIES: Gold gained $1.50 to $1,320.80 per ounce, silver lost 8 cents to $16.96 per ounce and copper was dropped a penny to $3.23 per pound.

(BE)