Stocks finish higher after late-day recovery

NEW YORK (AP) ? Falling oil prices and strong bond auctions in Europe are driving stocks to a higher close.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 22 points, or 0.2 percent, to end at 12,471 Thursday. The S&P 500 finished up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,296. It was the fourth day of gains for the index.

The Nasdaq composite rose 14 points to 2,724.

Oil prices dropped below $100 per barrel for the first time this year on rumors that Europe will delay an embargo of Iranian oil.

Materials and industrial companies led the afternoon recovery. Caterpillar and Alcoa rose the most in the Dow.

Rising stocks outnumbered falling ones 3-to-2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was lighter than average at 3.5 billion shares.