U.S. stocks ended sharply higher Thursday, with all the three major indices rising over 1 percent, as mixed economic data suggested that the Federal Reserve may delay interest rate hikes despite a solid labor market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 191.75 points, or 1.06 percent, to 18,252.24. The S&P 500 advanced 22.62 points, or 1.08 percent, to 2,121.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index soared 69.10 points, or 1.39 percent, to 5,050.79.
In the week ending May 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 264,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 265,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.The four-week moving average was 271,750, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 279,500. This is the lowest level for this average since April 22, 2000, when it was 266,750.
Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index for final demand fell 0.4 percent in April, the U.S. Labor reported Thursday. Final demand prices moved up 0.2 percent in March but decreased 0.5 percent in February.
"It was the seventh drop in nine months and has taken year-over- year prices deep into negative territory. Given recent price data on both a producer and consumer level, the Fed will find it hard to explain its concerns about wage inflation when current price measures remain on a downward trajectory," said Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial, in a note.
Investor sentiment was also boosted by the further weakness in the U.S. dollar, which held near its lowest level since January against a currency basket Thursday. The dollar index was down 0.17 percent at 93.454 in late trading.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.1399 dollars from 1.1356 dollars in the previous session, while the greenback bought 119.22 Japanese yen, higher than 119.13 yen of the previous session.
The technology sector led gains in the S&P 500's ten sectors as tech stocks such as Apple, Microsoft and IBM advanced.
Microsoft shares rose 2.30 percent to 48.72 dollars apiece after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold," noting that "investor enthusiasm about Azure and Office 365 is just starting to kick in."
However, Cisco Systems Inc. fell 1.02 percent to 29.05 dollars a share Thursday even after reporting better-than-expected third quarter results for the period ending April 25, 2015. The tech giant announced its quarterly revenue of 12.1 billion dollars, net income on a generally accepted accounting principles basis of 2.4 billion dollars or 0.47 dollars per share.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 7.41 percent to end at 12.74 Thursday.
In other markets, oil prices dropped Thursday as worries persisted that global supply might surpass demand.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery lost 62 cents to settle at 59.88 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for June delivery moved down 22 cents to close at 66. 59 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose Thursday as a weaker U. S. dollar gave support to the precious metal.
The most active gold contract for June delivery added 7 dollars, or 0.57 percent, to settle at 1,225.20 dollars per ounce.