Stocks rose on Thursday as rising oil and other commodity prices lifted energy stocks, while retail sales and weekly jobless claims data bolstered optimism for an economic recovery.

Shares of Chevron Corp rose 2.9 percent to $72.28 and was among the top boosts to the Dow as oil topped $73 per barrel, its highest level since mid-October, on a forecast for a rise in demand as well as U.S. dollar weakness.

The drop in the greenback also lifted other commodity-related stocks, with aluminum maker Alcoa up 6.4 percent at $12.22.

U.S. data showed May retail sales rose 0.5 percent, but the rise was mostly due to higher gasoline prices. Excluding autos and gasoline sales, sales were up 0.1 percent. Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 601,000, which was better than expected, suggesting improvement in the U.S. labor market.

We're now at a six or seven month high and energy is right around $72, said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Co in Reading, Pennsylvania.

That's a sign that demand is there, so there is some economic improvement. It can't just be forecasted and perceived improvement.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 95.23 points, or 1.09 percent, to 8,834.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 12.40 points, or 1.32 percent, to 951.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 19.24 points, or 1.04 percent, to 1,872.32.

The S&P 500 pierced the psychologically important 950 level on an intraday basis for the first time since early November, even though many investors expected a pullback.

Isn't that typical. The more you look for something, the less likely it is going to appear, at least as far as the market is concerned, added Morris. That's why it keeps going up. There's a lot of worry. The market climbs a wall of worry, right?

Some investors feared that rising commodity prices combined with climbing U.S. Treasury yields may hurt a recovery and spur a stock market correction. But demand was well above average for an auction of $11 billion in 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds, showing continued demand for U.S. debt.

Bank of America Corp shares jumped 9 percent to $13.07 after KBW analysts raised the stock rating and price target to $16.50 from $12.

Further bolstering bank shares, Goldman Sachs revised its ratings on Regions Financial Corp , which rose 11 percent at $4.44 on the NYSE, and Fifth Third Bancorp , up 7.6 percent at $7.90 on Nasdaq. The KBW Bank index <.BKX> rose 4 percent.

International Business Machines Corp's stock gained 2 percent to $110.45 and provided the biggest boost to the Dow industrials. The company said its first rail innovation center will help it tap into China's spending of 5 trillion yuan ($731 billion) in the sector.

Boeing Co was one of the few Dow components on the downside. Shares fell 2.9 percent to $50.79 after the big U.S. aircraft maker slashed its forecasts for new plane demand due to the industry downturn.

(Editing by Jan Paschal and Jeffrey Benkoe)