U.S. stocks rose Thursday as a batch of lackluster economic data suggested the Federal Reserve may sustain its bond purchases.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 21.73 points, or 0.14 percent, to 15,324.53 points. The broader S&P 500 was up 6. 05 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,654.41 points. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 23.78 points, or 0.69 percent, to 3, 491.30 points.
Wall Street opened mixed following a more than 5-percent slump in the Japanese stock market on Thursday, which sent the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average to its lowest level in about one month.
However, the market rebounded modestly afterwards, as investors speculated that the Fed may not retreat from its quantitative easing soon based on tepid economic data.
In the week ending May 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment claims was 354,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's upward revised figure of 344,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figure was much higher than economists' forecast of rising to 345,000.
Separately, the U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013, slightly down from an initial estimate of 2.5 percent, said the Commerce Department in its "second" estimate of the GDP.
Pending home sales in the world's largest economy ticked up 0.3 percent in April to 106.0 from 105.7 in March, as gains in the Northeast and Midwest were offset largely by declines in the West and South, according to the National Association of Realtors.
In corporate news, shares of Costco Wholesale Corporation reversed earlier gains to drop 0.95 percent to 111.88 U.S. dollars a share, after the company reported a 19-percent jump in profits in its third fiscal quarter.
MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., announced Wednesday in a joint statement that it will acquire Las Vegas-based NV Energy in a multi-billion-dollar deal. NV Energy shares surged 22.51 percent to 23.62 dollars a share.
On other markets, oil price on Thursday bounced back from a slump in the previous day, though U.S. commercial crude oil inventories jumped to a record high last week.
The U.S. crude supplies climbed 3 million barrels to 397.6 million in last week, hitting the highest level since the start of the weekly data in 1982, according to the Energy Information Agency.
Light, sweet crude for July delivery gained 48 cents, or 0.51 percent, to settle at 93.61 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent for July delivery went down 24 cents, or 0.23 percent, to close at 102.19 dollars a barrel.
The U.S. dollar continued falling against major currencies Thursday. In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3045 dollars from 1.2935 dollars of the previous session and the British pound increased to 1.5219 dollars from 1.5124 dollars. The Australian dollar climbed to 0.9669 dollars from 0.9635 dollars.
The dollar bought 100.95 Japanese yen, lower than 101.15 yen of the previous session. It edged down to 0.9536 Swiss francs from 0. 9633 Swiss francs and went down to 1.0301 Canadian dollars from 1. 0356 Canadian dollars of the previous trading day.
The most active gold contract for August delivery scored their highest settlement in more than two weeks as a weaker dollar, disappointing U.S. data and strong physical demand in Asia lift prices above 1,400 dollars an ounce.