Stocks advanced on Thursday, sending the Dow industrials above the key 9,000 mark for the first time since January, as strong corporate profits and rebounding home sales spurred optimism about the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 188.03 points, or 2.12 percent, to end unofficially at 9,069.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 22.22 points, or 2.33 percent, to finish unofficially at 976.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 47.22 points, or 2.45 percent, to close unofficially at 1,973.60.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Jan Paschal)