Energy companies and retailers led U.S. stocks broadly higher Thursday. Investors welcomed the latest quarterly results from several big department store chains and other companies. Crude oil prices surged after a forecast that called for a decline in global oil demand in 2017, but also a more even balance between supply and demand this year.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 118 points, about 0.6 percent, at nearly 18,613.5. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 10.3 points, about 0.5 percent, to 2,185.8, and the Nasdaq composite added 23.8 points, about 0.5 percent, to 5,228.4.
OIL PRICES: About the same time, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was up $1.66 at $43.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up $1.87 at $45.92 a barrel.
Crude oil prices moved higher after the International Energy Agency said it expects that supply and demand for oil will be more in balance the rest of this year. The IEA also said projected that global oil demand won’t grow as much as it previously expected next year, citing a weaker global economy. The agency now expects demand to rise by 1.2 million barrels a day, slower than the 1.4 million barrels a day seen this year.
LAYOFFS PROXY: Applications for new unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 266,000. The decline suggests employers are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their staffs. Weekly applications have been below 300,000 for 75 straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1970.