NEW YORK - Stocks traded at record levels on Friday as the price of oil jumped again, giving a lift to energy stocks.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 2,097, surpassing its previous intraday high of 2,093.55 set Dec. 29.
The Dow Jones industrial average reclaimed the 18,000 level. It was up 47 points, or 0.3 percent, ending at 18,019. The Dow is still just shy of its all-time high of 18,103. The Nasdaq composite gained 36 points, or 0.8 percent, to finish at 4,894. The tech-heavy index is now at a level not seen since 2000.
The Russell 2000, which tracks small-cap stocks, also hit a new high on Friday, closing at 1223, or 0.6 percent higher, after adding 7 points on the day.
CBS (CBS) gained after reporting earnings that exceeded analyst's expectations. The media company got a boost from better advertising revenue. Clothing company V.F. Corp. (VF), whose brands include Wrangler and Timberland, gained after giving investors an upbeat outlook for the year.
But ConAgra (CAG), a food company whose brands include Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix and Slim Jim beef jerky, slumped after the company cut its earnings outlook for the year, blaming the impact of the higher dollar among other factors.
European stocks climbed after Greece and its European creditors said they were willing to compromise to help Athens with its debts, while new data showed improvement in the eurozone economy.
CBS gained $2.06, or 3.6 percent, to $59.83 after the media company reported earnings late Thursday that were slightly better than Wall Street analysts had been expecting. The company got a boost from higher advertising revenues, led by the broadcast of "Thursday Night Football" and political ad revenues associated with the midterm elections.
Food company ConAgra, whose brands include Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix and Slim Jim beef jerky, dropped $1.60, or 4.4 percent, to $34.82. The company cut its earnings outlook for the year late Thursday, blaming the impact of a stronger dollar and intense competition for its Private Brands unit.
Greece and its creditors in the 19-country eurozone took visible, if modest, steps to bridge their differences over Athens' demands to lighten the load of its bailout. Following weeks of haggling, the two sides sounded willing to compromise and agreed to start technical discussions to analyze each side's requests ahead of another meeting Monday. Investors are hopeful that a deal will be reached to avoid Greece's exit from the euro.
A recovery in the price of oil, as well as prospects of deal between Greece and its creditors seem to have settled investors' nerves for now, said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. That's allowing stocks to push higher.
"Stability seems to be coming back," said Kinahan.
Data out Friday showed the eurozone economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter, thanks to better growth in Germany and Spain. The currency union's economy grew 0.3 percent in the October-December period compared with the previous quarter, more than expected, thanks also to lower oil prices and a weaker euro. The growth rate, while encouraging, is still only about half that of the U.S.
Germany's DAX added 0.4 percent to 10,963 after touching a record high, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.7 percent to 4,759. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.7 percent to 6,873.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.57 to $52.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude climbed $1.98 to $61.24 a barrel in London.
In U.S. government bond trading, prices fell slightly. The yield, which moves in the opposite direction of prices, on the 10-year benchmark government note edged up to 2.02 percent from 1.99 percent on Tuesday.
The dollar was little changed against the Japanese yen and the euro. The greenback traded at 118.75 yen, down from 118.85 yen the previous day. The euro was flat at $1.1406.
Precious and industrial metals futures closed higher. Gold rose $6.40 to $1,227.10 an ounce, silver jumped 50 cents to $17.29 an ounce and copper edged up less than a penny to $2.61 a pound.