U.S. stocks advanced in February’s final session, showing some stability along with crude prices and poised for a monthly gain after a two-week rebound from the worst start to a year ever.
After fluctuating in early trading, equities extended a climb as oil rallied, with West Texas Intermediate crude up 2.8 percent. Even with the commodity rising, gains in energy producers were muted while raw-material and utilities shares, among this month’s best performers, were the strongest today.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.4 percent to 1,956.47 at 12:21 p.m. in New York, on track for a 0.8 percent February advance and holding above its average price during the past 50 days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 68.14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,708.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.6 percent.
China’s central bank today cut the amount of cash the nation’s lenders must hold as reserve, marking a return to more traditional easing after policy makers indicated in recent weeks they would spur growth by guiding interbank markets lower and injecting liquidity through open-market operations.
The S&P 500 halted a two-day advance on Friday after signs of firming inflation spurred speculation interest rates may rise sooner than previously expected. Still, a bank-fueled rebound of more than 6 percent since a Feb. 11 low has erased the benchmark’s losses for the month.