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U.S. markets close higher, but energy stocks fall and Greece hopes waiver

The benchmark S&P 500\'s energy sector was dragged down by the biggest slide in oil prices since April after traders were surprised by a report that showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose for the first time in more than two months.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday but were down from earlier highs as energy stocks declined and Greece\’s debt crisis showed no clear indications of resolution.

The benchmark S&P 500\’s energy sector was dragged down through the biggest slide in oil prices since April after traders were surprised at a report that showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose the very first time in more than 8 weeks.

Canadian markets were closed for the Canada Day holiday.

Eurozone central bank chiefs held in place their cap on the funding lifeline to Greece, maintaining pressure as Greece\’s lenders run out of cash. The country\’s banks happen to be shut since Monday ahead of a Sunday referendum around the bailout package provided by its international lenders last week.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Athens aims to have a deal Monday and could be willing to accept \”strict\” conditions inside a new bailout package, if the sustainability of Greece\’s debts are guaranteed.

Investor hopes for a Greek debt deal, which earlier had helped drive a rally, ebbed throughout the day, according to Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc in San Antonio.

\”Until it\’s all said and done they are really jockeying for position backwards and forwards. The negotiation process still isn\’t over,\” Matousek said.

Many investors were also suppressing ahead of Thursday\’s scheduled release of the closely watched U.S. non-farm payroll report for June as the three-day weekend celebrating the U.S. July Fourth holiday kept others away, said Brian Fenske, head of sales trading at ITG in New York.

While the market was primarily driven by Greece\’s woes, stronger-than-expected jobs and construction data gave stocks some support as did Swiss insurance giant ACE Ltd\’s $28 billion offer for upmarket property insurer Chubb Corp.

Chubb\’s shares wound up 26 percent to $119.99, making it the second biggest boost for the S&P 500. Rival Travelers Cos Inc rose 2.7 per cent, the biggest driver for the Dow.

U.S. private employers added 237,000 jobs in June, the biggest gain since December, while construction spending rose in May to the highest level in just over 6-1/2 years, reports showed.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 138.4 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 17,757.91, the S&P 500 gained 14.31 points, or 0.69 percent, to 2,077.42, and the Nasdaq Composite added 26.26 points, or 0.53 percent, to 5,013.12.

The S&P energy sector fell 1.3 percent, the only S&P sector at a negative balance on Wednesday. U.S. oil futures? settled down 4.2 percent at $56.96 a barrel. Brent? settled off 2.5 per cent at $62.01.

Airline stocks tumbled following the U.S. Department of Justice said hello was investigating whether some carriers were colluding to help keep ticket prices high.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,914 to 1,179, for a 1.62-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,475 issues rose and 1,288 fell for a 1.15-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 14 new 52-week highs and 22 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 76 new highs and 89 new lows.

About 6.4 billion shares altered on U.S. exchanges, underneath the 7.4 billion average during the last five sessions, based on data from BATS Global Markets.

? Thomson Reuters 2015