Stocks extended gains through the afternoon session Wednesday as crude oil closed above $51 for the first time since July.
The S&P 500 was up 0.37%, hovering within 1% of its all-time high. The benchmark index remains at its best level of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4%. The Nasdaq rose 0.32%.
Crude was trading at its highest since last July after the Energy Information Administration reported a 3.2-million-barrel decline in domestic inventories in the past week. The data was slightly less than the 3.6-million-barrel drop reported by the American Petroleum Institute a day earlier.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was up 1.7% to $51.23 a barrel on Wednesday.
U.S. stocks on Tuesday ended mixed but minor gains pushed the S&P 500 to score its highest close of the year for the second day in a row. The twin factors of higher oil and a less-hawkish Federal Reserve inspired small gains.
The number of job openings rose 5.8 million in April, up from a downwardly revised 5 million in March, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The quits rate fell to 2% from 2.1%, while the hiring rate slid to 3.5% from 3.7%.
European shares fell for their first day in three after weaker data from China brought up issues over growth from the world's second-largest economy. Chinese trade data showed exports fall at a faster pace of 4.1% compared to an expected 3.6% decline. Imports fell just 0.4%, the smallest decrease in 18 months.
Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) shares were active after the Securities and Exchange Commission leveled a $1 million fine against the bank for allegedly failing to protect sensitive customer information. Morgan Stanley agreed to the settlement, though declined to admit wrongdoing.
Lululemon (LULU - Get Report) rose despite offering a weaker outlook for its current quarter. The yogawear retailer expects same-store sales to rise in the mid-single digits in its second quarter with earnings no higher than 38 cents a share. Profit guidance missed consensus by a penny. Excluding currency exchange, sales at existing stores rose 5% in its first quarter.
Yahoo! (YHOO) kicked off an auction for a portfolio of about 3,000 patents expected to fetch more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. Preliminary bids for the patents have a mid-June deadline. The beleaguered Internet company is also currently seeking potential bids for its core assets with a number of suitors reportedly expressing interest, including Verizon (VZ - Get Report) .
Lending Club (LC - Get Report) fell on reports former CEO Renaud Laplanche is speaking with private-equity firms and banks to potentially take the company private. Laplanche, who stepped down last month, is currently seeking financing for a possible takeover.
Verifone (PAY) was downgraded to equal weight at Barclays and sector weight at Pacific Crest. Barclays analysts said the company lacks near-term visibility, while Pacific Crest said it is facing pricing and macro pressures in emerging markets.