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The markets advanced solidly on Thursday after a round of weaker-than-expected economic data helped ease tensions about the Federal Reserve paring back its bond-buying program.
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As of 12:16 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 67.9 points, or 0.45%, to 15371, the S&P 500 gained 9.7 points, or 0.59%, to 1658 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 27.1 points, or 0.78%, to 3495.
It's been a manic week for Wall Street. Strong data ignited a rally Tuesday, but then fears that an accelerating recovery will cause the Federal Reserve to slow its easing program sparked an equally large selloff Wednesday.
The Nikkei 225, Japan's benchmark stock-market index, plunged 5.2% overnight and entered a technical correction, meaning it has fallen 10% from a recent high. Markets there have been driven by central bank headlines as well, with the Bank of Japan initiating a massive easing program aimed at escaping the country's painful deflation.
The focus is expected to stay on the economy, with three key reports due out.
A second reading on U.S. gross domestic from the Commerce Department product showed the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.4% in the first quarter, down slightly from an initial estimate and Wall Street’s forecast of 2.5% growth.
The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits rose to 354,000 last week from an upwardly revised 344,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to hold steady from an initially-reported 340,000.
U.S. pending home sales ticked up 0.3% in April from March to the highest level in three years, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were expected to climb 1.1%. The gauge was up 10.3% from the same month in 2012.The housing market has been cited as a bright spot in the overall economic recovery as the Fed has pushed down short and long-term interest rates.
In commodities, oil and gasoline futures pointed higher. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract climbed 62 cents, or 0.49%, to $93.74 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.61% to $2.82 a gallon. In metals, gold rallied $19.40, or 1.4%, to $1,411 a troy ounce.
On the corporate front, private-equity heavyweight KKR (NYSE:KKR) said it hired former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus to run its newly created KKR Global Institute.
The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 0.8% to 2809, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.38% to 6652 and the German DAX surged 1.2% to 8481.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 plunged 5.2% to 13589 and the Chinese Hang Seng slipped 0.31% to 22484.