U.S. stocks on track to rally on oil-price gains

U.S. stock futures pointed to a sharply higher open for Wall Street on Thursday, boosted by dovish comments by a Federal Reserve member and investor hopes that Wednesday’s gains will extend as oil prices continued to creep higher.

Prospects for further central-bank easing in Europe were also whetting investor appetite for riskier assets such as stocks.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, +0.95% rose 179 points, or 1%, to 17,686, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.83% gained 19.50 points, or 1%, to 2,039.20. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NDH5, +0.83% jumped 42 points, or 1%, to 4,193.50.

Global markets also rallied Thursday. U.S. oil prices for February delivery CLG5, +0.41% zig-zagged, tapping nearly $50 a barrel at times and those for Brent crude LCOH5, +0.12% were atop $51 a barrel.

Will stock gains stick? Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said the U.S. might not hit the Fed’s target inflation rate until 2018, and he doesn’t advise a rate hike until 2016. Evans, who is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, was speaking at an event sponsored by the University of Chicago late Wednesday.

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