Wall Street posted solid gains on Thursday as higher oil prices reduced fears that banks could be hit by debt defaults and investors saw opportunities after weeks of volatility.
The second uptick in two days for stocks was helped by a 3-percent jump in oil, which has been a major influence on markets this year as investors view weak energy demand as a sign of sluggish global growth.
The S&P 500 .SPX has recovered 6 percent in the past nine sessions but remains down almost 5 percent in 2016 as oil hovers near decade lows.
For the first time this year, the S&P 500 exceeded its 50-day moving average, a move that some investors believe is a sign of improving sentiment.
"I have a lot of people calling me and saying 'Hey, I've got $50,000 in the bank earning zero percent. Is it time to put it to work?'," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa.
"People are saying 'Let's take a nibble right here.'"
All of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by the financial sector .SPSY, up 1.38 percent.
The financial sector has fallen 12 percent this year, easily the worst performer on the S&P, as fears loom about a wave of defaults from energy companies.
Also helping sentiment, orders for U.S. durable goods rose more than expected in January as demand picked up across the board, offering a ray of hope for the downtrodden manufacturing sector.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.87 percent to 4,582.21.
Shares of Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) surged 11.03 percent. The online customer management software maker reported higher-than-expected revenue and raised its full-year forecast. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co (RGR.N) jumped 7.8 percent after reporting quarterly results that handily beat Wall Street's expectations. [L2N1641LN]
Tech leader Microsoft (MSFT.O) rose 1.44 percent, fueling much of the Nasdaq's gains.
After the bell, food company Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O) rose 3 percent following its fourth-quarter report. Weight Watchers International Inc (WTW.N) shed 19 percent after posting a steep drop in fourth-quarter net revenue.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 2,265 to 784. On the Nasdaq, 1,684 issues rose and 1,074 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 35 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 48 lows.
About 7.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
Upbeat U.S. factory data suggests business spending stabilizing
WASHINGTON New orders for U.S. manufactured capital goods rose for a second straight month in July as demand for machinery and a range of other products picked up, offering a tentative sign that a business spending downturn was starting to ease.
Dollar inches lower as investors await Yellen's Jackson Hole speech
NEW YORK The dollar slipped on Thursday as some investors squared positions before the annual global central bankers' gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen may offer new guidance on U.S. monetary policy.
Oil up on U.S.-Iran scare, dollar; Saudi output stance cuts gains
NEW YORK Oil prices rose 1 percent on Thursday on U.S.-Iran military tensions in the Gulf and speculation the dollar will fall on a monetary policy speech due from the U.S. Federal Reserve chair.