Stocks showed a strong upward move at the start of trading on Thursday, adding to the gains posted in the previous session. The initial strength reflected optimism about the results of the government's financial stress tests as well as some better than expected employment data.

Before the start of trading, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected decrease in weekly jobless claims, although the report also showed that continuing claims rose to another new record high.

Banking stocks are turning in some of the best performances in early trading ahead of the release of the stress test results after the close of trading. Resource stocks are also seeing some further upside amid a continued increase in commodities prices.

In the past few minutes, the major averages have pulled back off their highs for the young session, although they remain firmly positive. The Dow is currently up 49.94 at 8,562.22, the Nasdaq is up 8.58 at 1,767.68 and the S&P 500 is up 8.71 at 928.24.

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