U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as fewer than expected people applied for jobless claims.
All the three major indexes rose slightly. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 45.33 points, or 0.38 percent, to 11,868. 81. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 3.93 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,215.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 1.70 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,541.01.
Investors now shifted their focus from euro zone drama to U.S. economic data for a while. The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the lowest level since May 2008.
A separate report by the agency said the producer price index rose 0.3 percent last month, which was below previous estimation and eased inflation concerns.
Also lifting sentiment, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's gauge of mid-Atlantic manufacturing activity rose to 10.3 in December, much stronger than estimates.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation said holiday sales were expected to gain 3.8 percent to a record 469.1 billion dollars. Investors now hoped that the relevant economic data will be boosted by the holiday season.
Investors, however, still remained cautious about the future economy as eurozone crisis was looming ahead.
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said on Thursday that euro zone governments are on the right track to restore market confidence.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde also said the organization would seek aid from countries outside the eurozone to help with the region's debt crisis and warned that the world economic outlook is "gloomy".
The dollar declined as market sentiment turned positive. The dollar index lost 0.38 percent to 80.29 on Thursday.
Crude prices continued to decline on Thursday as U.S. industrial production dropped for the first time in seven months, worse than expectation and concerns over European debt crisis lingered.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery slipped 1.08 dollars, or 1.38 percent to settle at 93.87 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for January delivery also dropped and last traded around 103 dollars a barrel.