US STOCKS-Wall St gains as oil soars 30%


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    * Exxon, Chevron top gainers on Dow 
    * Energy index top among major S&P sectors
    * Initial unemployment claims rose to 6.65 mln last week 
    * Indexes up: Dow 1.36%, S&P 1.34%, Nasdaq 0.90%

 (Adds comments; updates prices)
    By Medha Singh and Uday Sampath Kumar
    April 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street bounced on Thursday as hints
of a deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia drove a record 30%
surge in oil prices, outweighing the shock of a jump in U.S.
jobless claims past 6 million.
    The S&P energy index  .SPNY , down by half this year, gained
12%, with double-digit gains for majors Exxon Mobil Corp  XOM.N 
and Chevron Corp  CVX.N  helping drive a more than 1% rise for
both the S&P 500  .SPX  and the Dow.  .DJI 
    U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected Russia's
Vladimir Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince to announce an output
cut of 10 million to 15 million barrels per day, putting Brent
on track for its biggest one-day gain on record.  O/R 
    Apache Corp  APA.N , Diamondback Energy Inc  FANG.O  and
Helmerich Payne  HP.N  all gained between 18% and 22% as minds
for a moment moved away from the economic damage being wrought
by the coronavirus pandemic. 
    "The surge in crude is helping the mood, so we're seeing
some relief in markets that have been hammered," said Richard
Steinberg, chief market strategist at Colony Group, in Florida.
    The first quarter of 2020 was among U.S. stock markets'
worst in history, and analysts predict further declines as
shutdowns to combat the COVID-19 outbreak drive more corporate
budget cuts.
    Boeing Co  BA.N , a symbol of America's industrial might, 
said on Thursday it would offer buyout and early retirement
packages to employees, as a near collapse in business activity
crushes liquidity and sparks mass staff furloughs.*:nL1N2BQ07O
    Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week exceeded
the top end of analysts' estimates at 5.25 million as more
states enforce sweeping stay-at-home orders to curtail the
coronavirus pandemic.*:nAQN006QXN
    "The U.S. labor market has never experienced such a
disruption," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of
investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.
    "Most will likely say the United States is sitting squarely
in a recession right now, but the real question at hand is for
how long and to what extent."
    At 10:54 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
was up 284.00 points, or 1.36%, at 21,227.51, the S&P 500  .SPX 
was up 33.21 points, or 1.34%, at 2,503.71. The Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  was up 66.19 points, or 0.90%, at 7,426.77.
    Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc  WBA.O  fell 6% after the
drugstore retailer reported a steep decline in U.S same-store
sales in the last week of March.  L4N2BQ32Z 
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners more than 2-to-1 on
the NYSE and on the Nasdaq.
    The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and seven new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 53 new lows.

 (Reporting by Medha Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru;
Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Arun Koyyur)
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