Apache, an international oil explorer, rose 3% Monday afternoon. (Apache Corporation) – Investor's Business Daily

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U.S. stock indexes were trading modestly higher with about an hour left in Monday’s session.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% while the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.2% each. The small cap Russell 2000 rose 0.2%.

Volume was running lower on both major exchanges. In the past dozen sessions, only one day showed strong volume on the Nasdaq: Wednesday’s turnover was 15% above average.

Oil stocks were enjoying a boost. The price of West Texas intermediate crude oil rose 1.5% to just above $53 a barrel. The U.S. attack on Syria has added a risk premium to the price of oil, even though Syria is not a major oil producer.

Hess (HES), an international oil explorer and producer, advanced 3.5% in volume about 15% above average. The company lost money in 2015-16 and the Street expects additional losses in 2017-18. Hess is trying to retake its 50-day line.

Apache (APA), which is in the same industry group as Hess, added 3% in quiet volume. The Houston-based company lost money in 2015-16 but is expected to turn a profit of $1.26 a share this year. Apache retook its 50-day line Monday.

Oil stocks have lagged the market this year. The price of light sweet crude dropped roughly 15% from late February to late March. Since then it has rebounded to about 5% off its February high.

Blue chips were mostly down Monday afternoon. The biggest mover in the Dow industrial average, however, came on the upside. Caterpillar (CAT) popped about 2% in average volume. The stock is climbing the right side of a shallow pattern.

Caterpillar broke out of a 7% deep pattern Jan. 25 but could only muster a 2% gain before starting the current consolidation. The potential buy point in the current pattern is 99.56.

One drawback for Caterpillar is its industry group, which is not at a level associated with market leadership. Going into Monday’s session, the Machinery-Construction/Mining group was No. 74 among 197 industry groups, up from 110 six weeks ago.

In the Nasdaq 100, electric car maker Tesla (TSLA) scored an impressive gain, gapping up 3% in volume that was about 40% above average. The stock is extended from a 287.49 buy point in a cup-without-handle base.

Research firm Piper Jaffray upgraded Tesla stock from neutral to overweight and raised its price target to $368 a share.

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