U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, as investors shifted their focus from a possible interest rate hike to a rally in oil prices.
Oil prices extended recent gains to trade more than 1 percent higher on Wednesday. Both Brent and WTI held strong above 50 U.S. dollars a barrel in early session trading, helped by a larger-than-expected U.S. crude stockpile draw.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 54.37 points, or 0.30 percent, to 17,992.65. The S&P 500 gained 4.47 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,116.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index ticked up 6.18 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,967.93.
U.S. stocks closed mixed Tuesday, as Wall Street continued to assess U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech on the U.S. economy.
Yellen said Monday that gradual interest rate hikes remain appropriate, but avoided providing precise timing for the central bank's next move.
"The positive economic forces have outweighed the negative, and despite the challenges that the economy continues to face, I continue to expect further progress toward our employment and inflation objectives," Yellen said in a speech at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.