The energy sector (CME:Index and Options Market: .GSPE_WTD) was the best performing group in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) on Wednesday, gaining about 1.4 percent on the day.
The key energy ETF (NYSE Arca: XLE) gained about 1.4 percent, while the broader market inched up a little less than 0.3 percent.
In late morning trading, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (New York Mercantile Exchange: @CL.1) futures hit a high of $51.90 a barrel, its highest level since Jul. 2015. U.S. crude later settled at $51.60 a barrel, its best settle since July 2015.
The sector is also the top performer so far in 2016, gaining more than 16 percent year to date.
— CNBC's Christopher Hayes contributed to this report.
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