U.S. markets were up slightly in midday trading Wednesday as oil prices began to rebound from levels below $40 a barrel Tuesday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were each up about 0.2% as crude oil climbed about 3.1% to $40.75 a barrel, based on U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate.
Meanwhile, shares of American International Group (AIG) rose about 6% in midday trading following an earnings beat late Tuesday, in which earning per share of $0.96 topped analyst forecasts by about 6%. The insurance giant's CEO, Peter Hancock, said the company has come a long way in its 2016 strategy of returning to sustainable growth. "We have executed more quickly and smoothly than expected and our confidence in reaching our 2017 financial targets is high as our earnings become more sustainable," he said in a statement.
AIG's board also approved further stock repurchases of roughly $3 billion, boosting its total buyback authorization to $4 billion, and declared a quarterly dividend of 32 cents a share.
And the rally in crude price helped lift a variety of oil and gas companies, especially Houston-based Southwestern Energy (SWN) , a member of Real Money's Stressed Out watch list, with shares up roughly 5% in afternoon trading. Southwestern shares fell more than 80% last year as crude oil prices reeled; its market cap has more than doubled in 2016 as oil briefly topped $50 a barrel in June.
Twitter (TWTR) shares were also up about 8% as takeover chatter continues to surround the social media company, especially following Microsoft's (MSFT) $26.2 billion bid for LinkedIn (LNKD) in June. (Twitter is a holding of Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust.)