NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks recovered from their first wobble of the year and pushed back to record heights on Thursday. Surging energy stocks led the way after oil hit its highest price since 2014.
The gains for indexes marked a return to calm for markets, which got a whiff of nervousness a day earlier after interest rates climbed. Rates held steady Thursday, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was on pace for its seventh gain in the last eight days.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 15 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2,763, as of 3:10 p.m. Eastern time. If it ends the day there, the index would surpass its record of 2,751.29 set on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 154 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,523, the Nasdaq composite gained 47 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,200 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks jumped 26points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,585.
RATES AT ROOT OF CONCERNS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.53 percent from 2.56 percent late Wednesday.
Rates have been at center stage in recent days following the 10-year yield's climb from 2.40 percent early in the year. It got as high as 2.59 percent on Wednesday before falling back later in the day.
China's foreign exchange regulator challenged a report from Wednesday that had helped drive up yields, which said China may slow or halt purchases of U.S. Treasurys. A U.S. government report on Thursday also showed that inflation was weaker on the wholesale level last month than economists expected. Weak inflation would likely result in rates staying relatively low.
Investors say they're prepared for a gradual rise in rates, but a quick jump could easily jolt markets out of the calm, upward ride they've been on.
BIGGEST GAINERS: Energy stocks jumped after benchmark U.S. crude gained 23 to settle at $63.80 per barrel. It crossed above $64 per barrel earlier in the day for the first time since Decedmber 2014. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 6 cents to $69.26 per barrel.
That helped drive energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 2 percent gain, the largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index. They're on pace for their best day since June.
Anadarko Petroleum and Apache had two of the biggest gains among the stocks that make up the index. Anadarko Petroleum gained $3.05, or 5.5 percent, to $58.46, and Apache rose $2.29, or 5.2 percent, to $46.28.
GAINING ALTITUDE: Delta Air Lines jumped $3.25, or 5.8 percent, to $59.11 after it reported stronger results for last quarter than analysts expected on the back of higher fares.
CALM RIDE: The stock market has repeatedly shrugged off concerns through its placid ride to records. Whether investors are worried about a pickup in rates in the future or about how stocks have become more expensive than they've historically been relative to corporate profits, any dip for the market over the last year has been shallow and short.
That's rewarded investors who have repeatedly "bought the dip" and seen every wobble in prices as a buying opportunity. The next test for the market may arrive in coming weeks as companies report how much profit they made in the last three months of 2017.
Businesses will need to produce big numbers to justify the gains their stocks have made, and expectations are also high that CEOs will unveil encouraging profit forecasts for 2018 after Washington cut their income-tax rates.
MARKETS ABROAD: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent, South Korea's Kospi retreated 0.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged 0.2 percent higher.
Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent, France's CAC 40 was down 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX dipped 0.6 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar held steady at 111.10 Japanese yen, while the euro rose to $1.2039 from $1.1957 late Wednesday.
COMMODITIES: Gold gained $3.20 to settle at $1,322.50 per ounce, silver lost 7 cents to $16.97 per ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $3.23 per pound.
Natural gas rose 18 cents to settle at $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil was nearly flat at $2.08 per gallon and wholesale gasoline was steady at $1.84 per gallon.
AP Business Writer Youkyung Lee contributed from Seoul, South Korea.