TORONTO — A decline in U.S. crude stockpiles helped push oil prices and energy stocks higher as North American markets rallied at the close on Wednesday.Energy stocks were among the biggest gainers as the May contract for North American benchmark crude rose US$1.86 to US$37.75 a barrel.The S&P/TSX composite index ran up 42.80 points to 13,347.46 to end four straight days of losses, while the loonie gained 0.36 of a cent to 76.37 cents US.The U.S. Energy Information Administration said oil inventories fell by 4.9 million barrels last week. Analysts had been expecting a rise in inventory.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 112.73 points at 17,716.05, while the broader S&P 500 climbed 21.49 points to 2,066.66. The Nasdaq gained 76.79 points at 4,920.72.Elsewhere in commodities, the June gold contract lost $5.80 to US$1,223.80 a troy ounce, while the May copper contract was unchanged at US$2.14 a pound and the May natural gas contract lost four cents at US$1.91 per mmBTU.

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