Energy and bank stocks led Wall Street higher on Wednesday, adding to a rally in the previous session, after strong jobs data dispelled concerns over the health of the U.S. economy.
Concern lingered that the U.S. economy was on a weaker footing than thought, but recent data including a better-than-expected reading on private sector job creation last month has helped dispel those worries and given equities support.
The improvement in U.S. economic data, including manufacturing, construction spending and auto sales earlier this week, rekindled expectations that the Federal Reserve could raise rates at least once later this year, giving a boost to bank shares.
"I’ve been encouraged by the economic numbers," said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, citing jobs and manufacturing data.
Crude prices hovered in and out of negative territory through the day but ended higher, with U.S. crude CLc1 reaching $35.17 at one point, its highest since Jan. 6.
"There's been so much pessimism around energy," said Bradshaw, "and in spite of that oil is near $35 (a barrel). When crude moves up it is telling the world, and particularly the U.S., is not going through a recession."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 34.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,899.32, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 8.1 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,986.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 13.83 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,703.42.
The U.S. economy continues to show signs of recovery even as China and the euro zone continue to look for support from their central banks.
The upbeat view on U.S. stocks was evidenced in the CBOE Volatility index .VIX, a measure of anxiety among traders, which closed at its lowest level so far this year.
The materials sector was the worst performer on the S&P 500, weighed by a 7.8 percent drop in Monsanto shares (MON.N) after the agricultural products maker cut its earnings guidance.
The largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 was Chesapeake Energy (CHK.N), which rose 23.2 percent, to $3.40.
The energy sector .SPNY rose 2.5 percent and financials .SPSY added 0.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE and the Nasdaq by a ratio of 2-to-1. The S&P 500 posted 8 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 27 new lows.
Volume hit 8.26 billion shares, slightly below the daily average in the past 20 sessions of 8.83 billion.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski)