US stocks were slightly higher, helped by a big gain in the price of oil – U.S. News & World Report

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By KEN SWEET, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were slightly higher on Thursday, helped by a sharp drive up in the price of oil, which rose more than 3 percent. Investors are looking ahead to Friday’s closely watched jobs report.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,694 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,057 and the Nasdaq composite rose seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,730.55

U.S. ECONOMY: As the week comes to a close, the market’s focus is turning to the nonfarm payrolls report for April due out Friday. Investors will be watching closely to see if it could have any impact on the Federal Reserve’s plans for raising interest rates at its next policy meeting in June. Economists expect the report to show jobs grew by 200,000 last month while the unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent.

A private sector jobs report released by ADP on Wednesday showed that private employers created only 156,000 jobs last month, which was significantly below economists’ estimates.

EARNINGS: Several stocks were moving higher after reporting better earnings than analysts were expecting. Media company Discovery Communications, whose cable channels include Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, rose $1.39, or 5 percent, to $27.98. Insurer Allstate added $2.52, or 4 percent, to $67.82.

ENERGY: Crude oil prices jumped, driven by what analysts said were concerns that production could be impacted by a massive fire that swept through the Canadian oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.60, or 3.7 percent, to $45.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up $1.45 at $46.07 a barrel in London.

BONDS and CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.79 percent from 1.78 percent late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1413 from $1.1498 and the dollar rose to 107.33 yen from 106.93 yen.

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