Stocks Jump on Strong China Trade Data

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

A batch of much better-than-expected data from China, the world's second-biggest economy, sent stocks climbing for the second day in a row on Thursday.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 80.7 points, or 0.6%, to 13471, the S&P 500 gained 11.1 points, or 0.76%, to 1472 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 16 points, or 0.51%, to 3122.

The markets snapped a two-day losing streak on Wednesday after Alcoa (NYSE: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 (NYSE: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. (NYSE: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.