Stocks rose on Thursday after a pledge by European leaders to support debt-laden Greece eased fears of a broader euro zone crisis and upbeat data from China spurred mining and material stocks.
Data pointing to stabilization in the U.S. labor market gave the market a further boost, along with a broker upgrade of bellwether 3M Co
China, the world's top base metals consumer, reported a jump in lending and slower inflation, suggesting the economy is on track for growth. Caterpillar Inc
But the biggest driver in the nearly 1 percent rise on the day was the European Union pledge to support Greece. Investors saw an EU bid to avert fallout from fiscal troubles in Greece and other European single currency countries like Portugal and Spain.
They moved everything up on more of a posture by the EU to come up with something creative on Greece as opposed to not knowing what to do, said Stephen Carl, principal and head of U.S. Equity Trading at the Williams Capital Group in New York.
It looks like they are putting things in place and the market is reacting favorably just because there is a plan. Let's see how they implement it.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 105.81 points, or 1.05 percent, to 10,144.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 10.34 points, or 0.97 percent, to 1,078.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 29.54 points, or 1.38 percent, at 2,177.41.
Before the bell a government report showed applications for jobless insurance fell more than expected in the latest week, a signal the labor market continues to mend.
Shares of 3M Co, a diversified manufacturer, rose 2.1 percent to $80.27 after Sanford C. Bernstein upgraded the company to outperform from market-perform, citing better margins and a higher growth rate.
Among commodity related names, Alcoa Inc
On the Nasdaq, shares of video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc
Shares of Philip Morris International Inc
European leaders are keen to prevent Greece's problems spreading to other highly-indebted or high-deficit members of the euro zone, a development that could plunge the 16-nation bloc into a deeper debt crisis.
With the S&P 500 falling more than 7 percent from its 15-month closing peak of January 19 in recent days, investors had been looking for a major catalyst to spur a search for beaten-down stocks. Indeed, some of the day's best performers were some of the market's worst laggards in the past three weeks -- including technology, materials and energy sectors.
The S&P 500 is now only up 59.4 percent since its March 2009 bottom after having pulled back from a run-up of 70 percent since that significant low.
Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.08 billion shares changing hands, well below last year's estimated daily average of 2.18 billion. But on the Nasdaq, about 2.15 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 1.63 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 7 to 2, while on the Nasdaq, about five stocks rose for every two that fell.
(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Andrew Hay)