US STOCKS-Wall St gains with energy sector, inventory data

* Chevron leads energy sector up after upbeat outlook

* Inventories rise more than expected in February

* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
(Updates to late afternoon, changes byline)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, April 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Energy shares buoyed U.S.
stocks on Friday as Chevron Corp’s upbeat outlook gave a boost
to the sector, while wholesale inventories data supported bets
on an improving economy.

The S&P energy sector (.GSPE: ), up 1 percent, led the
market’s advance, with Chevron (CVX.N: ) up 2.4 percent at
$79.50 a day after it said its refining and marketing arm
would return to profit in the first quarter, while earnings
from oil and gas production would grow. For details, see
[ID:nN08222069].

Among other leaders in the sector, ConocoPhillips (COP.N: )
gained 2.5 percent to $55.29, and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: )
rose 1.4 percent to $68.84.

Data showed U.S. wholesale inventories rose more than
expected in February and sales at wholesalers reached their
highest level in 16 months, brightening prospects for
first-quarter economic and earnings growth. [ID:nN09141748].

“A combination of the strong retail sales number yesterday
and the stronger-than-expected inventories report today is
helping support the market,” said Todd Salamone, vice
president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in
Cincinnati.

“I think it confirms that we could be on the heels of a
stronger-than-expected recovery.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) added 37.63
points, or 0.34 percent, to 10,964.70. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) gained 4.46 points, or 0.38 percent, to
1,190.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) rose 10.22
points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,447.03.

The three major stock indexes were on track for a sixth
straight week of gains — a positive run not seen since stocks
rebounded from more than 12-year lows in March 2009.

Another lift for the energy sector came from Atlas Energy
(ATLS.O: ) shares, which surged 17.8 percent to $37.47 after
Indian energy company Reliance Industries (RELI.BO: ) agreed to
pay $1.7 billion for a stake in an Atlas shale project to
provide natural gas. [ID:nSGE6380G2].

Department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: ) rose
1.8 percent to $31.54 after Goldman Sachs added the stock to a
list of recommended buys.

Palm Inc (PALM.O: ) jumped 11.6 percent to $5.19, capping a
volatile week in which the smartphone maker’s stock has
seesawed on options market chatter and takeover rumors.
[ID:nN09252780].

Worries about Greece’s debt problems, which have weighed
on stocks for weeks, eased after a European Union source said
policy-makers had reached an agreement on terms of possible
emergency loans for Athens. The U.S. dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ) (.DXY: )
slipped 0.5 percent, while the euro rose nearly 1 percent.
Earlier, stocks pared gains on news that Fitch downgraded
Greece’s debt rating. [ID:nLDE6380QK]

Investment Basics

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jan Paschal)

US STOCKS-Wall St gains with energy sector, inventory data