Gains in energy and internet companies helped drive stocks broadly higher on Wall Street Thursday, snapping a two-day losing streak for the market in an otherwise choppy week of trading.
The gains were initially fueled by rising oil prices, which boosted energy companies following a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The sector sustained its gains as a mix of media, internet and consumer-oriented companies took the lead in pushing every major index higher. Small company stocks rose more than the rest of the market.
Investors have been searching for direction as they cautiously await any new developments on the global trade war between the U.S. and China. Any continued escalations could crimp global economic growth and put the brakes on what is poised to be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.
Anticipation of next week's Federal Reserve meeting of policyholders also helped lift the market Thursday, said Jeff Zipper, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.
"You've got two competing forces here right now," Zipper said. "The lingering issue of when is this trade tariff deal going to get resolved, and a more dovish Fed."
Last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell set off a market rally after he signaled that the central bank is willing to cut interest rates to help stabilize the economy if the trade war between Washington and Beijing starts to crimp growth.
The S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,891.64. The benchmark index has been seesawing this week, opening strong on Monday, and then falling for two straight days before reversing course again on Thursday. The uneven week follows the index's best week of 2019. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 101.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,106.77. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent, to 7,837.13.