U.S. stocks rose Thursday for a second day in a row, as geopolitical crises continued to mitigate.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.78 points, or 0.37 percent, to 16,713.58. The S&P 500 added 8.46 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,955.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 18.88 points, or 0.43 percent, to 4,453.00.
The gains came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his country will spare no efforts to facilitate an earliest end to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine, which comforted investors a little bit.
Tension in Gaza also de-escalated as Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo agreed late Wednesday night to a further five- day ceasefire in their ongoing conflict in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.
A batch of notable retailers were on market focus. Wal-Mart released mixed earnings before the opening bell, one day after department store chain Macy's reported second-quarter earnings and revenues that trailed market estimates.
Wal-Mart's per-share earnings from continuing operations for the second quarter turned out in line with market forecast, while its total revenue beat estimates. But the world's largest retailer cut its full-year profit forecast.
Shortly after the closing bell, J.C. Penney posted a narrower- than-expected loss in the second quarter and revenue above forecast estimates. Its second-quarter comp sales also exceeded market consensus. In response, the retailer's shares surged in after-hours trading.
On the economic front, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits jumped 21,000 to 311,000 for the week ending Aug. 9, although the job market kept improving as a whole, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
In a separate report, the department said that U.S. import prices declined 0.2 percent in July after two months of straight gains, while export prices were unchanged in July following a 0.4- percent decrease in June.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as Wall Street's fear gauge, lost 3.72 percent to end at 12.42.
In other markets, the dollar retreated against most major currencies amid rising jobless claims in the United States and softened geopolitical tensions.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.3367 dollars from 1.3369 dollars of the previous session. The dollar bought 102.47 Japanese yen, higher than 102.45 yen of the previous session.
Crude prices dropped, pressured by ample supplies amid signs of easing geopolitical tensions.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery moved down 2.01 dollars to settle at 95.58 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery lost 2.27 dollars to close at 102.01 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange went up on mediocre U.S. jobless claims report. The most active gold contract for December delivery rose 1.2 dollars, or 0. 09 percent, to settle at 1,315.7 dollars per ounce.