S&P Clears 1400 Hurdle for First Time Since '08

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

Rallying financial and industrial shares pushed the broad S&P 500 past the 1400 threshold for the first time in four years, while the Dow climbed for the seventh session in a row.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 58.7 points, or 0.44%, to 13253, the S&P 500 gained 8.3 points, or 0.6%, to 1403 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 15.6 points, or 0.51%, to 3056.

Financial stocks performed strongly on Thursday. The best performing stocks on the Dow were Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM). Investment banks posted big gains too, with shares of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) soaring.

Industrial names like CSX (NYSE:CSX), the freight giant, and conglomerate General Electric (NYSE:GE) had a strong showing as well.

A Rosier U.S. Economic Outlook 

The outlook on the U.S. economy has grown increasingly bright as recent data on several sectors has impressed.

The number of individuals filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 to 351,000 last week, lower than the 356,000 economists forecast. Continuing claims, meanwhile, fell to 3.34 million, the lowest reading since August 2008.

The recovery in the jobs market has gained momentum recently as weekly claims have remained under the 400,000 level, but many economists say the rate of improvement is too small to make more than a gradual reduction in the 8.3% unemployment rate.

A separate report from Labor showed U.S. producer prices rose 0.4% in February, slightly less than the 0.5% expected. Excluding the food and energy components, prices were up 0.2%, in line with estimates. Energy prices were up 1.3% overall, with gasoline prices soaring 4.3% and heating oil leaping 5.3%.

Economists from the Federal Reserve and elsewhere have said that a short-term spike in energy prices may not be sufficient to increase inflation expectations for the future, meaning they may not yet cause a longer-term inflation threat. The more closely-watched report on consumer prices is on tap for Friday.

The Philadelphia Fed said manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region continued growing at a slightly quicker pace in March than in February, and also more quickly than analysts had anticipated. Manufacturing in the New York region expanded at the swiftest pace since June 2010, according to the New York Fed's  Empire State survey.

Shaky Session for Energy Futures, Gold Rebounds

Energy futures took a hit from a report by Reuters that the U.S. and Great Britain are mulling a bilateral pact in which each country would potentially tap its oil reserves. However, prices regained their footing somewhat after an Obama administration official denied that report.

The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 30 cents, or 0.3%, to $105.11 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slumped 1.8% to $3.29 a gallon.

A gallon of regular at the pump costs $3.82 on average nationwide, up from $3.76 last month and $3.55 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge report.

Elsewhere, gold prices had tumbled $68.40, or 4.00%, over the past three sessions before rebounding $16.60, or 1.8%, to $1,660 a troy ounce.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields have jumped 0.248-percentage points  to 2.278% over the past three sessions as traders have shed the safe-haven asset and moved into riskier markets.

Corporate News

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) unveiled plans to scoop up NDS for $5 billion. The London-based maker of software for television networks is partly owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), the parent company of FOX Business Network.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips rose 0.55%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.2% to 5934 and the German DAX climbed 0.78% to 7134.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 jumped 0.72% to 10123 and the Chinese Hang Seng rose 0.21% to 21354.