Stocks ended higher Thursday, led by gains in energy shares after the US blamed attacks on oil two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Iran.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a news conference. “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, on Twitter called the incidents “suspicious” and urged regional dialogue.
Crude-oil futures jumped with West Texas Intermediate added more than 2.1% to $52.23 a barrel. Brent, the international benchmark, gained nearly 2.3% to 61.32.
Energy shares rose nearly 1.3%, led higher by Cimarex Energy’s (XEC) 4.2% gain. Schlumberger (SLB) climbed 3.4% while Halliburton (HAL) advanced 2.8%.
Communications services added 1%, as Facebook (FB) rose 1.4% and Sprint (S) gained 2.7%.
Health care was the only declining sector, falling 0.1%. Blue-chips Pfizer (PFE) slid almost 1.4% while Merck (MRK) fell 1%. Eli Lilly (LLY) lost 3%.
Walt Disney (DIS) popped 4.4% after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the stock, forecasting strong subscriber growth for its upcoming streaming service.
Fiverr International’s (FVRR) shares soared 90% as the online freelance marketplace made its stock market debut.
In economic news, claims for initial unemployment benefits rose by more than expected last week but remained at a level which is low by historical standards, implying a healthy labor market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 each gained around 4% while the Nasdaq Composite added nearly 0.6%.