Big gains in petroleum stocks lifted the US equity market Thursday as investors bet on more large energy mergers following Royal Dutch Shell's takeover of BG Group.
At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,958.66, up 56.15 points (0.31 percent).
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 9.19 (0.44 percent) to 2,091.09, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 23.74 (0.48 percent) at 4,974.56.
Companies mentioned as takeover targets were in favor, including Anadarko Petroleum (+3.1 percent) and Devon Energy (+3.0 percent). Others that advanced included ConocoPhillips (+3.4 percent) and Marathon Oil (+2.9 percent).
The $70 billion Shell deal has "gotten everyone in the energy patch being discussed as either an acquirer or a seller," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.
The energy sector was further aided by a rise in oil prices. Oil services companies Halliburton and Schlumberger rose 2.7 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.