People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street down on Wednesday after U.S. inflation was lower than expected amid unease about the impact of the spread of the coronavirus's delta variant. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Stocks were modestly higher in morning trading Wednesday, helped by rising energy prices which in turn pushed energy companies higher.
The S&P 500 index was up 0.2% as of 10:59 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 60 points, or 0.2%, to 34,638 and the Nasdaq composite was relatively unchanged.
Oil prices rose more than 3% and natural gas prices jumped more than 6% as the oil and gas industry continues to sort through the damage caused by hurricane season in the Gulf. Disruptions have been more pronounced than originally expected, and there's been some oil spills from some refineries.
ExxonMobil was up more than 3%, which was helping lift the blue chips more than the rest of the market. Occidental Petroleum was up more than 6.3% and Marathon Oil was up more than 5.7%.
Healthcare and industrial stocks also made solid gains. Communications companies and others that rely on direct consumer spending, including travel-related businesses, fell.
Casino stocks were falling following reports of a possible crackdown on the industry by Chinese officials in Macau, the former Portuguese colony and gambling center. MGM Resorts was down 4.6% and Wynn Resorts was down 8.5%.
The bond market was quiet, with the 10-year Treasury note trading at 1.29%, slightly higher from the day before.
Investors have been navigating a choppy market as they try to determine how rising cases of COVID-19 because of the highly contagious delta variant will impact economic growth. The employment market has been slow to recover and consumer spending has been tempered in recent months.
Wall Street will get get additional information on both the jobs and consumer spending situation on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment benefits and the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August.
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