US STOCKS-Wall St adds gains in late trade; energy leads
* Energy leads gain
* Indexes: Dow down 0.5 pct, S&P up 0.7 pct, Nasdaq up 0.6 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained ground in late afternoon trading on Friday, extending the S&P 500's best two-day run in more than three years, helped by higher energy shares.
The S&P 500 was within points of a fresh intraday record high and, with gains of more than 3 percent this week, the index was also on track for its best weekly performance in two months.
It has erased nearly all the losses from the prior week, which were tied to a sharp drop in oil prices.
The day's gains follow a 4.5 percent rally over the previous two sessions, spurred by the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to take a "patient" approach toward raising interest rates, while signaling it was on track to boost rates in 2015.
The news provided both clarity and relief to investors over the policy outlook, analysts said.
Brent crude oil rebounded to end up 3.6 percent at $61.38 a barrel, while WTI crude jumped 4.5 percent to settled at $56.52. The S&P energy index was up 2.3 percent, leading the benchmark index's advance. Continuación...