Wall Street edged higher in choppy trading on Thursday, breaking step with sliding oil prices, as strong U.S. manufacturing data pointed to a recovery in the struggling sector.
Orders for U.S. durable goods rose more than expected in January, as demand picked up across the board.
Movements in crude prices have been the biggest influence on stock markets this year as investors see weak energy demand as a sign of sluggish global growth. The S&P 500 has lost 5.5 percent in 2016 as oil hovers near multi-year lows.
Some investors, however, said the two could soon delink as focus shifts to data and the U.S. Federal Reserve's next move on interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has hinted at sticking with the plan to raise rates gradually this year, while other policymakers have warned against a hike amid the turmoil in global markets.
"I think we're going to see a stagnant market over the next few days, with volatility picking up between now and next Friday, when the (monthly) jobs report comes out," said Mohanned Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management in New York.
At 12:37 p.m. ET (1737 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 52.8 points, or 0.32 percent, at 16,537.79, the S&P 500 was up 3.38 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,933.18 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 8.63 points, or 0.19 percent, at 4,533.98.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the biggest boost coming from financial stocks. The energy sector was down 1.8 percent.
The financial sector has fallen more than 12 percent this year, easily the worst performer on the S&P, as fears loom about a wave of defaults from oil and gas companies.
Shares of Salesforce surged 7.6 percent to $67.26 after the company reported higher-than-expected revenue and raised its full-year forecast. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
NetEase was down 15.8 percent at $134.71 after the Chinese online games maker reported disappointing quarterly sales.
Amazon was down 1.4 percent and was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq.
Kraft Heinz was up 2.1 percent, while Gap was down 1.9 percent ahead of their results after the close.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,684 to 1,261. On the Nasdaq, 1,389 issues fell and 1,243 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 30 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 35 lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2016 00:00 AM