Stocks ended a back-and-forth session with modest advances Thursday as a sharp drop in oil prices helped counter renewed concerns about...

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NEW YORK — Stocks ended a back-and-forth session with modest advances Thursday as a sharp drop in oil prices helped counter renewed concerns about the strength of the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.03 to 12,063.09. The Dow fell below the 12,000 mark in Wednesday’s trading for the first time since mid-March.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, gained 47 cents to close at $28.93 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, soared $2.30 to $76.95.

Broader stock measures also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.02 to 1,342.83, and the Nasdaq composite index jumped 32.35 to 2,462.06.

Oil fell $4.75 to settle at $131.93 a barrel after China announced plans to raise caps on gasoline and diesel-fuel prices, a move that could ease global demand. The pullback in oil was welcome after weeks in which rising prices have pinned down investor sentiment with fears that the run-up would force businesses and consumers to curb spending.

But worrisome comments from Citigroup perhaps damped some investors’ spirits. The bank warned that a “substantial” amount of write-downs on bad debt are still to come. The remarks from Citi’s chief financial officer, Gary Crittenden, sent Citigroup shares lower and at times weighed on the financial sector. Citi was among the steepest decliners of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials.

But while Citi’s comments about faltering debt renewed worries about credit markets, the drop in oil seemed to encourage some investors to buy stocks.

“It really seems to be a tug of war between the good news and the bad news, or the not-as-bad news and the terrible news,” said Jennifer Ellison, principal with wealth-management firm Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough in San Francisco. “I think it’s going to be hard for the market to find a trend when there is still this undercurrent of bad economic data and negativity in the financial sector and the high price of oil.”