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US stocks rise; Oracle leads technology stocks higher

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday, led by gains in technology stocks after Oracle surged on a strong earnings report. Energy stocks lagged the market as the price of crude oil resumed its slide.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 31 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,044 as of 12:13 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 257 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,614. The Nasdaq composite rose 72 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,718.

EARNINGS BEAT: Oracle posted better-than-expected results late Wednesday in its first quarterly report since co-founder Larry Ellison gave up the helm of the business software maker. The company reported that its software and cloud revenue grew 5 percent. The stock rose $3.39, or 8.3 percent, to $44.61.

FED SPARK: Stocks are building on a rally that was driven by steadying oil prices and comments from the Federal Reserve Wednesday after its last policy meeting of the year.

Stocks surged after the Fed said that while it was edging closer to raising interest rates from close to zero, it will be “patient” in deciding when to do so. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015.

OIL RESUMES SLIDE: After starting the day higher, benchmark U.S. crude resumed its slide by mid-morning. The price of oil dropped 88 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $55.87 after rising as high as $58.71 in morning trading. Oil has plunged since June, when it peaked at $107 a barrel. Overproduction and weak demand are behind the fall in global oil prices. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, dropped 64 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.51 a barrel.

THE QUOTE: “The bottom line is that low oil is a net positive for the consumer,” Karyn Cavanaugh, a senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management. “The consumer drives the U.S. economy, which drives the global economy, so that’s good news.”

DUBAI STOCKS RISE: Gulf stocks gained after a midweek drop. Dubai’s main index closed 13 percent higher.

EUROPE’S DAY: France’s CAC 40 jumped 2.9 percent and Germany’s DAX surged 2.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1.8 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES. U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year government Treasury note, which rises as prices fall, climbed to 2.21 percent from 2.14 percent a day earlier.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.2276 from $1.2329 the previous day. The dollar rose to 119.15 yen from 118.83 yen.