U.S. stocks rise to kick off 2015; energy stocks dip as oil falls

U.S. stocks gained at the open in 2015’s first day of trading, showing no trace of a hangover from their rough New Year’s Eve.

Energy-sector stocks dipped as oil prices fell again, with crude continuing on its track from 2014.

Investors await fresh readings Friday on manufacturing and construction, with a trio of reports due in the first half hour of trading.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.64% gained 12 points, or 0.6%, to 2,071, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.66% rose 110 points, or 0.6%, 17,933. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.84% climbed 39 points, or 0.8%, to 4,775.

The gains come after the three benchmarks went through a rocky trading session on Wednesday, when they started the day higher, but ended with sizable losses. Some market watchers said there was no single factor behind the choppiness, and suggested investors shouldn’t read that much into the moves given the relatively light, pre-holiday volume.

With its 160-point drop in the New Year’s Eve session, the Dow industrials failed to finish 2014 above 18,000, after topping that big round number for the first time last week. The three main indexes all still scored solid gains in 2014, with the S&P up 11.4% for the year, the Dow rising 7.5% and the Nasdaq advancing 13.4%.

Trading is expected to be light on Friday in the wake of the New Year’s Day holiday, as many investors stay on vacation until Monday.

Today’s economic news: Factory activity is in the spotlight on Friday, with the Markit purchasing managers’ index and the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index due, both for December. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expect the ISM reading to fall to 57%, from 58.7%, which would still indicate that the manufacturing sector is expanding, but at a slower pace. The reading comes out at 10 a.m. Eastern, just after the Markit PMI, scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m.

Construction-spending figures for November come out at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Movers and shakers: Linn Energy LLC LINE, +7.60% gained after falling in premarket action. The oil and gas company slashed its annual distribution from $2.90 to $1.25 and said its capital expenditure budget in 2015 will be less than half that in 2014.

MiMedx Group Inc. MDXG, -18.30% dropped after saying late Wednesday that U.S. regulators are probing its sales and marketing practices in a civil investigation.

 Varchev Traders

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