U.S. Stocks End Higher, On Pace For Weekly Gain

Markets Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, adding to strong gains made a day earlier, as retail sales provided more evidence of a strengthening economy.

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But the main indexes finished off their session highs, pulling back after the International Monetary Fund halted negotiations with debt-strapped Greece.

The S&P 500 rose 3.66 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 2,108.86, putting the benchmark on pace for a weekly advance of 0.8%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38.97 points, or 0.2%, to end at 18,039.37, while the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 5.82 points, or 0.1% to 5,082.51. The Dow is eyeing a rise of 1.1% for the week, while the Nasdaq is up 0.3%.

Martin Jarzebowski, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors, said Thursday's retail report points to an improving economy and that supports the stock market.

"Core sales are rising and we are finally seeing a tailwind from lower gasoline prices," he said. Jarzebowski added that rising interest rates, as manifested in 10-year Treasury yields, are tied to an improving economy and as such should be seen as a "positive development for the stock market."

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On Wednesday, the S&P 500 and Dow industrials posted their biggest one-day gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/storyno-meta-for-guid) in more than a month, both climbing more than 1%.

Check out: Here's what technical analysts want to see after Wednesday's rally (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-technical-analysts-want-to-see-after-wednesdays-rally-2015-06-11)

Thursday's key economic reports: Sales at U.S. retailers climbed 1.2% in May (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-jump-12-in-may-2015-06-11-8913027), rising for the third month in a row and offering more evidence of springtime rebound in consumer spending after a winter lull. That was below the 1.5% expected by economists polled by MarketWatch, but sales for April and March were revised up.

Separately, initial jobless claims edged up (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-inch-up-to-279000-in-first-week-of-june-2015-06-11) by 2,000 to 279,000 last week, roughly matching forecasts for 275,000.

Individual movers and shakers:Citrix Systems Inc.(CTXS) closed 6.7% higher for the biggest gain among S&P 500 stocks. Hedge fund Elliott Associates, a Citrix shareholder, said it believes Citrix can get its stock up to the $100 level.

Eli Lilly & Co.(LLY) was another big gainer in the S&P 500, closing up 4.1% after starting to surge higher around 1:45 p.m. Eastern (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eli-lillys-stock-shoots-up-to-14-year-high-2015-06-11).

For more on notable movers, read the Movers & Shakers column (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bojangles-quarterly-results-come-into-focus-2015-06-10).

Other markets: European stocks finished higher but off their intraday peaks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/german-bonds-continue-to-sell-off-but-european-stocks-steady-after-rally-2015-06-11) after the IMF left talks with Greece due to a lack of progress. Greece's Athex Composite Index had ended 8.2% higher, closing before that discouraging news hit.

Asian markets ended mostly higher, with South Korean stocks getting a boost from a central-bank interest rate cut.

The ICE dollar index gained, while crude oil dropped more than 1% after settling at a 2015 high on Wednesday. Gold lost ground (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-nurses-loss-after-retail-sales-data-2015-06-11), and the 10-year yield saw its biggest one-day drop since mid-March (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasurys-rise-after-retail-sales-as-bunds-rally-2015-06-11).

MarketWatch's Sara Sjolin contributed to this report.

(By Victor Reklaitis and Anora Mahmudova)