U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, supported by data that pointed to stabilization in the labor and housing markets, areas that have fed concerns about a double dip recession.
New claims for jobless benefits fell sharply in the latest week, while sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose in October to their highest level in a year.
That added to investors' risk appetite, which helped push the safe-haven U.S. dollar to a 15-month low against a basket of currencies <.DXY> and lifted commodity prices and natural resource stocks.
Trading volume was light one day before the Thanksgiving holiday, with many senior traders absent from trading floors. Even so, the Dow industrials were set to close at a fresh 13-month high.
Fred Dickson, market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said the drop in weekly jobless claims and stronger home sales set a slightly better economic tone.
It's a little bit of a Thanksgiving lift on Main Street, he said. On a different day this week, we probably would have seen a big bounce in the market.
He said some of the lift should spill over to next week after a shorter trading day on Friday.
U.S. financial markets are shut on Thursday to mark Thanksgiving. The U.S. stock market will close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 30.91 points, or 0.30 percent, to 10,464,62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 4.70 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,110.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 7.70 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,176.88.
Gold stocks were having a big day as the price of gold broke another record above $1,180 an ounce. U.S. gold miner Newmont Mining Corp
The Arca Gold Bugs index <.HUI>, which measures the performance of 15 gold miners with U.S. stock listings, rose 2.7 percent. The index is up 190 percent since late October 2008.
The Dow Jones industrial metals and mining index <.DJUSIM> rose 2.2 percent as rising metal prices boosted miners' stocks.
Shares of energy companies rose as U.S. front-month oil futures climbed $1.94, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $77.96 per barrel. Marathon Oil Corp
On the earnings front, shares of Tiffany & Co
Deere & Co
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index <.VIX>, or the VIX, a favorite barometer of investor sentiment, sank to its lowest intraday level in 15 months, dropping as low as 20.05 intraday on Wednesday.
Yet another government report showed U.S. consumer spending increased more than expected in October, while a final reading of consumer sentiment was revised up slightly in November, but was still down from October's reading, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan survey.
The positive economic data offset a report on new orders for U.S. durable goods, or long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods, which unexpectedly fell in October, weighing on stocks in early morning trading.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Jan Paschal)