Stock prices advanced sharply today, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 20-points. Market analysts cited continuing indications of lower oil prices and the possibility of continuing Federal Reserve Board efforts to lower interest rates.

"A lot of people are saying things the market likes," said Madelon D. Talley, president of Rothschild Asset Management. Talley cited reports from the Middle East concerning the continuing pressure to push oil prices lower and also rumors that the Fed is continuing efforts to keep interest rates easing lower.

But several Wall Street officials expressed skepticism about the interest-rate indications.

Nevertheless, bond prices advanced today, generally by as much as 50 basis points.

Prices of long-term government bonds, which move in the opposite direction from interest rates, showed gains of about $10 to $15 for every $1,000 in face value. Rates on short-term Treasury bills dropped 12 to 17 basis points, or hundredths of a percentage point.

Trading was active on the New York Stock Exchange, with volume hitting 93.7 million shares, up from 84.5 million Wednesday. The Dow Jones average, which had fallen 19.68 points Tuesday and Wednesday, rose 20.33 points to 1087.75, less than five points below that measure's record high of 1,092.35, set on Jan. 10.

Several broader market indicators surpassed their previous peaks--among them the New York Stock Exchange composite index of more than 1,500 common stocks, which rose 1.31 points to 85.09.

On the Big Board, advances led declines by nearly 3 to 1. Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 109.28 million shares.

Volume on the American Stock Exchange jumped to 8.4 million shares from a total of 6.5 million traded Wednesday. The Amex market value index rose 5.53 points to 376.06.

Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials gained 2.98 points to 166.36, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 2.50 points at 147.50. The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market closed at 254.77, up 3.39 points.