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US Stocks Reverse Prior Day's Losses to Trade Higher, Energy Sector Leads Gains

US equity benchmarks were reversing Wednesday's declines to trade modestly higher on Thursday morning helped by a buoyant energy sector, which was benefiting from a rally in oil prices , and higher industrials.

In economic news, the picture was mixed with jobless claims advancing, the producer price index falling short of expectations for the 2017 year and a closely-watched gauge of manufacturing activity being revised up.

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment benefits was higher than expected last week and marked the fourth consecutive week in which jobless claims have risen. Some 261,000 people filed applications for jobless benefits in the week ended January 6, according to the department of labor, 11,000 more than the number registered a week earlier and ahead of analysts' expectations for a count of 245,000 initial claims.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia revised its December reading for the current activity index, which covers the manufacturing sector, to 27.2 from am earlier reading of 26.2. And, data published by the bureau of labor statistics showed that the producer price index for final demand rose by 2.6% in the 2017 year, falling short of analysts' expectations for a rise of 3% but nevertheless above the 1.7% rise seen in 2016.

Some seven of the 11 key sectors making up the Standard & Poor's Index were higher at the time of writing with gains led by the energy sector, up by 1.35%, followed by industrials, 0,64% higher and materials, up by 0.60%. Real estate followed by utilities led the decliners, down by 0.49% and 0.19%, respectively.

Underpinning gains in the energy sector was a rally in oil prices the morning after a report from the Energy Information Administration ( EIA ) showed an eighth consecutive week in which US stockpiles of the hydrocarbon commodity have fallen. West Texas Intermediate futures, the main US benchmark, was 1.5% higher at $64.50 per barrel while Brent crude, the international gauge, was up by 0.9% at $69.82 per barrel in recent trade.

In equities news, shares in Anadarko Petroleum ( APC ) were 4.2% higher after Goldman Sachs reiterated its buy investment ratings for the oil production major. Chevron ( CVX ) was 2.1% higher after securing an average rating among analysts for buy, with an average price target of $124.

Shares in General Electric Company ( GE ) were 1.9% higher after the company said it had completed the repowering and financing for Leeward Renewable Energy's combined capacity of 136 megawatt Sweetwater 1& 2 wind farms in Nolan County, Texas. And, Delta Air Lines' ( DAL ) shares were 1.8% higher after the Atlanta-headquartered air carrier benefited surpassed analysts' expectations for both its top and bottom lines in the fourth quarter helped by robust demand from passengers and higher business fares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.45% higher, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up by 0.34% and the Nasdaq was 0.36% higher at the time of writing.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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