U.S. stocks ended higher Thursday, boosted by a further rise by oil futures and strong economic data that helped offset uncertainty about the timing of the next Federal Reserve interest-rate hike. The S&P 500 gained 5 points, or 0.2%, to 2,186, led by gains in energy and utilities shares. The Dow industrials climbed 22 points, or 0.2%, to 18,596. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Chevron Corp. were the two best performers on the blue-chip gauge. The Nasdaq Composite added 12 points, or 0.2%, to 5,240. Oil futures stretched their winning streak to a sixth session, settling at their highest levels in two months.
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