FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

Strong trade data from China, the world's No.2 economy, sent stocks rising for the second session in a row Thursday.

Today's Markets

As of 3:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 75.3 points, or 0.56%, to 13466, the S&P 500 gained 10.1 points, or 0.69%, to 1471 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 15.6 points, or 0.5%, to 3122.

The markets snapped a two-day losing streak on Wednesday after Alcoa (AA) kicked off earnings season on a modestly upbeat tone. The focus shifted, at least temporarily, to the world economy Thursday. 

China's exports surged 14.1% on a year-to-year basis in December -- nearly three times the 5% analysts were expecting. The data, along with other recent reports, have helped ease fears that the world's second-biggest economy may be in for a hard landing. 

There are two reports due out on the U.S. economy -- the world's biggest -- as well. 

The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to 371,000 from a downwardly revised 367,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to fall to 365,000 from an initially reported 372,000. A separate report showed wholesale inventories climbing 0.6% in November from October, a faster clip than the 0.3% forecast. 

Also on the economic front, the European Central Bank held its main refinancing rate at 0.75%, as expected. The Bank of England held its benchmark interest rate at 0.5% and the size of its asset-purchase program at 375 billion pounds, as expected.  

In corporate news, BATS Global Markets issued a note to clients late Wednesday warning that a "system issue" allowed hundreds of thousands of transactions to be processed at prices that were different from the best ones available in a situation that has been ongoing since 2008. BATS is the third-biggest U.S. equities exchange and processes 12% to 13% of U.S. equity transactions daily. 

Herbalife (HLF) held an investor conference on the day in which it defended itself against claims from activist hedge fund manager William Ackman that it is basically a "pyramid scheme." Increasingly, the dispute it becoming a clash of hedge fund titans, with high-profile managers picking both sides, causing the stock to fluctuate violently. 

Tiffany & Co. (TIF) shares came under heavy selling pressure after the luxury retailer said its full-year earnings would come in at the low end of its guidance. 

In commodities, oil futures advanced. The benchmark contract jumped 72 cents, or 0.77%, to $93.82 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.52% to $2.7933 a gallon. In metals, gold rallied $22.50, or 1.4%, to $1,678 a troy ounce. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.07% to 2708, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.05% to 6102 and the German DAX dipped 0.16% to 7708. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7% to 10653 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged up by 0.59% to 23354.

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.