By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday, after equities snapped a five-day losing skid and data pointed to a labor market that continued to strengthen.
The advance was broad, with 8 of the 10 major S&P sectors gaining at least 1 percent.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were slightly above expectations but slipped by 4,000 from the prior week.
“Jobless claims they were about in line, maybe a little weaker than expected but the jobs market still points to jobs growth,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
The benchmark S&P index climbed 1.2 percent Wednesday, its biggest advance since Dec. 18, to snap its longest losing streak in about 13 months, after strong private sector jobs data and minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting reassured investors the bank was in no hurry to start raising interest rates.
After reaching a record high on Dec. 29, the S&P lost 4.2 percent during its losing streak, amid headwinds from a continued rout in oil prices and the possibility of Greece’s exit from the euro zone following its upcoming elections.
The European Central Bank said that access to ECB funding by Greek banks past February will depend on the country successfully completing a final bailout review and reaching a deal on a follow-up plan with its EU/IMF lenders.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 194.91 points, or 1.11 percent, to 17,779.43, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 20.78 points, or 1.03 percent, to 2,046.68 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 46.82 points, or 1.01 percent, to 4,697.29.
Signs of possible stabilization in oil prices helped boost sentiment, as Brent crude <LCOc1> held above $ 51 a barrel, last off 0.2 percent at $ 51.05, while U.S. crude gained 0.1 percent to $ 48.71. [O/R]
“Oversold, it was just a matter of time before we see stabilizing prices take hold there,” said Cardillo.
Retailers will be in focus as they report monthly sales results. Investors will monitor the figures for signs of whether lower energy prices have helped boost consumer spending. The S&P retail index <.SPXRT> gained 0.6 percent.
Family Dollar Stores <FDO.N> slipped 0.3 percent to $ 78.6 after the discount retailer posted first quarter earnings.
Bind Therapeutics <BIND.O> shares surged 64.7 percent to $ 8.48 after the company said it enrolled its first patient in a mid-stage trial for its lung cancer drug.
Biogen Idec <BIIB.O> climbed 0.5 percent to $ 355 after the drugmaker said a mid-stage study of a new treatment for acute optic neuritis showed evidence of biological repair of the visual system.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,198 to 506, for a 4.34-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,798 issues rose and 477 fell for a 3.77-to-1 ratio.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 42 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 46 new highs and 9 new lows.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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