Stocks Closed Higher as Energy Led Gains

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher for a third day of gains on Thursday, with energy shares maintaining gains after a rebound by oil futures fizzled and a flurry of economic data pointed to continued lackluster U.S. growth. The Dow industrials gained 44.58 points, or 0.26%, to 16,943.90. The S&P 500 added 6.95 points, or 0.35%, to 1,993.40. The Nasdaq Composite was up 4.00 points, or 0.09%, to 4,707.42.

Oil futures fell Thursday for the first time in four sessions. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, April West Texas Intermediate crude fell 9 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $34.57 a barrel. On London’s ICE Futures exchange, Brent crude added 14 cents, or 0.4%, to close at $37.07 a barrel.

The productivity of U.S. businesses fell at a 2.2% annual pace in the fourth quarter, a smaller decline than previously estimated. In the fourth quarter, output rose a seasonally adjusted 1% in the final three months of 2015 instead of a 0.1% advance, the government said Thursday.

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week for the first time in two months as global economic anxiety and market turbulence eased.

Herbalife, already facing questions about whether its business model is legal, suffered another blow Thursday when the company announced it had overstated its worldwide growth in customers and distributors.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. said its earnings fell 52% in the January quarter as negative currency impacts masked underlying revenue growth.

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