(Updates with afternoon trade)
* Intel pushes higher
* Delta profit up, helped by cheap fuel
* Netflix to report after the bell
* Indexes up: Dow 0.57 pct, S&P 0.66 pct, Nasdaq 0.83 pct
By Noel Randewich
April 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, fueled by gains in the energy sector and speculation that upcoming first-quarter earnings reports might not be quite as bad as previously thought.
All 10 major S&P 500 sectors gained, with the energy index up 1.89 percent. U.S. crude jumped more than 4 percent after a lower-than-expected build of crude stockpiles in the United States.
Intel jumped 4.5 percent to $32.91 after the chipmaker said late on Tuesday it expects flat revenue for the entire year despite some weakness in the first quarter.
Investors have feared that the March-quarter earnings season, just getting under way, would be hurt by low oil prices, a strong dollar and extreme weather in the eastern United States. First-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are seen dropping 2.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Of the 36 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 81 percent beat expectations, better than the 63 percent of companies exceeding expectations in a typical quarter.
“Companies can jump over a bar that’s about as low as a limbo stick,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. “Beating expectations should be relatively easy.”
U.S. shares also benefited after the European Central Bank said it remained committed to its full asset-buying program to revive the euro zone economy.
Delta Air Lines’ first-quarter profit topped analysts’ expectations, one of many industrial and transportation companies that benefit from cheap oil and its derivatives. Its stock rose 2.35 percent to $44.09.
At 3:13 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 102.36 points, or 0.57 percent, to 18,139.06, the S&P 500 gained 13.81 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,109.65 and the Nasdaq Composite added 41.18 points, or 0.83 percent, to 5,018.46.
Bank of America’s shares were down 0.69 percent at $15.71. First-quarter profit at the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets narrowly beat analysts’ estimates.
Video streaming company Netflix will report after the market close.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,126 to 918, for a 2.32-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,905 issues rose and 831 fell for a 2.29-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 index was posting 17 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 101 new highs and 17 new lows. (Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)