U.S. stocks revert to gains as price of oil steadies

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 24, 2016.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Last Updated Feb 24, 2016 4:19 PM EST

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks turned higher on Wednesday after the cost of crude steadied near $32 a barrel.

Benchmark indexes erased losses of more than 1 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI) rose 53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,485. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) gained nearly 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,930 and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) added 39 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,543.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, told a meeting of energy leaders in Houston this week that production cuts aimed at supporting falling crude prices won't work. He said that the market should instead let some operators go out of business. Crude oil tumbled more than 4 percent on Tuesday and continued its fall on Wednesday.

Oil futures added 28 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $32.15 a barrel in New York.

Despite some substantial gains in recent days, many investors remain hesitant to commit more money to the market and don't need much reason to sell, analysts say.

"Fundamentally, there's nothing that shows the U.S. economy is faltering here. But people continue to be worried about low commodity prices and there is general unease that has lingered from how the markets started this year," said David Kelly, chief investment strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.