U.S. stocks rose Thursday, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 index higher for the fourth time in five days, as economic data eased concern about a slowdown and Germany approved changes to a European bailout fund.
The S&P 500 advanced 1.85% to 1,172.34 at 9:59 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 242.68 points, or 2.2%, to 11,253.58.
Jobless claims fell more than forecast and the U.S. economy grew more than estimated in the second quarter.
“We got two excellent numbers,” Philip Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, which oversees about $350 billion, said in a telephone interview. “It suggests that we are coming out of the soft patch and not spiraling into a double-dip recession,” he said. “Equities have to go up on this, but the challenge is that domestic economic fundamentals don't matter as much as what's happening in the eurozone right now.”
Stock futures extended gains as applications for jobless benefits dropped by 37,000 in the week ended Sept. 24 to 391,000, the fewest since April, Labor Department figures showed. Economists forecast 420,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. An agency official said the data probably reflected a “slight mistiming” in the seasonal factors used to modify the figures.
A separate report showed the U.S. economy grew at a 1.3% pace in the second quarter, faster than estimated last month and helped by exports and spending on services.
Equities climbed earlier as Germany's lower house of parliament approved the expansion of the European bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility. The bill's passage by Europe's biggest economy allows eurozone officials to weigh further measures to bolster Greece and stem investor concern that helped end the biggest three-day rally in 16 months for European stocks.