OPENING BELL: Spurt in oil prices pushes US stock indexes higher
NEW YORK — A spurt in oil prices on Monday helped revive energy stocks, which have been among the year's worst performers, and U.S. stock indexes flirted again with record highs.
The pace for markets around the world, though, remained sluggish. For weeks, markets have made only modest moves as investors shrugged off a long series of potential concerns.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,401, as of 10:08 a.m. Eastern time. If it stays there, it will surpass its record closing high set last week.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 20,972, the Nasdaq composite gained 19, or 0.3 percent, to 6,140 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose 9 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,392.
OIL SPURT: Crude jumped on expectations that the global oil glut may ease. Many oil-producing countries around the world have already cut their production in hopes of supporting the price of oil, and Russia and Saudi Arabia said they want to extend the cuts through the first three months of 2018. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.78, or 3.7 percent, to $49.62 per barrel. It's close to topping the $50 level for the first time in nearly three weeks.
The price of oil has swung sharply in recent years, from more than $100 two years ago to less than $30 last year, as concerns wax and wane that supplies will overwhelm demand. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.43 to $52.27 per barrel on Monday.
HIGHER ENERGY STOCKS: The rise in oil's price pushed energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 1.3 percent gain, the biggest among the 11 sectors that make up the index.
It's the latest swing for a group of stocks that has tracked the price of oil higher and mostly lower in recent years. As a group, energy stocks are still down 9 percent for 2017, while the S&P 500 500 has climbed 7 percent.
Marathon Oil jumped 77 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $15.05 for one of Monday's biggest gains in the S&P 500. Transocean rose 46 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $11.08, and Hess gained $1.56, or 3.2 percent, to $50.93.
WHAT, ME WORRY? Markets around the world made only modest moves Monday, continuing a weekslong trend.
South Korean stocks rose even after North Korea launched a missile early Sunday and its leader promised more nuclear and missile tests. The worldwide "ransomware" cyberattack continued to spread on Monday, while politicians in Washington wonder whether Republicans' odds of implementing pro-business have weakened.
For the most part, signs of a strengthening global economy and improving corporate profits have been enough to allay investors' fears and push markets to new heights. Investors' appetite for stocks and other risky investments "has held up remarkably well given the list of bad news faced by investors," according to Jane Foley, a senior strategist at Rabobank International.
MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was close to flat, Germany's DAX index slipped 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index slipped 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.9 percent to 25,371.59.
COMMODITIES: The price of gold rose $5.20 to $1,232.90 per ounce, silver rose 30 cents to $16.71 per ounce and copper gained 2 cents to $2.54 per pound.
Natural gas slipped 6 cents to $3.36 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.53 per gallon and wholesale gasoline climbed 4 cents to $1.61 per gallon.
CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.0984 from $1.0924 late Friday. The dollar rose to 113.58 Japanese yen from 113.41 yen, and the pound rose to $1.2913 from $1.2879.
YIELDS: Longer-term Treasury yields rose, as bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield ticked up to 2.34 percent from 2.33 percent late Friday. The 30-year yield rose to 3.01 percent from 2.99 percent, while the two-year yield slipped to 1.28 percent from 1.29 percent.