U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday, helped by a jump in tech stocks and a reversal in surging global interest rates.
Strong quarterly results from Alibaba as well as speculation that consumer review website Yelp.com could be for sale drove technology stocks higher, with the S&P tech index <.SPLRCT> up 0.87 percent.
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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held near a 15-year low last week, suggesting positive momentum in the economy, but not so much as to change expectations for a September interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
A recent run-up in global interest rates that has worried Wall Street also showed signs of stabilizing, while a rally in oil prices snapped.
"That drastic, draconian move in bonds and violent updraft in oil are settling a little bit and that's helping us focus on stocks," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
Investors are looking ahead to an April payroll report on Friday that will offer a fresh indication of the economy's health and could potentially affect when the Fed raises interest rates for the first time since 2006. Most of Wall Street's top banks see the Federal Reserve holding off until at least September before raising interest rates, based on Reuters' most recent poll.
"Tomorrow's report would have to be a monster month for us to believe June is back on the table," Hogan said.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 82.08 points, or 0.46 percent, to end at 17,924.06. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 7.85 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,088 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 25.90 points, or 0.53 percent, to 4,945.54.
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In Thursday's trading session, nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors were positive, led by technology and financial indices.
Oil prices fell after touching their highest in 2015 on Wednesday, pushing the energy index <.SPNY> down 1.1 percent while lifting airline stocks.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,763 to 1,292, for a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,528 issues rose and 1,207 fell for a 1.27-to-1 ratio favoring advancers. The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 7 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 46 new highs and 60 new lows.
About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.1 billion daily average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.
(By Noel Randewich; Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Nick Zieminski)