Three economic reports lit a fire Thursday under global markets, sending U.S. stocks and many commodities higher. The S&P 500 stock index briefly topped its April 2011 peak of 1,363.61.

U.S. home prices rose in December more than expected and factory activity in the Midwest climbed to its highest level since June.

The third report came from Germany, where the Ifo Institute said business confidence in Europe's top economy was up in February for the fourth straight month.

Stocks. U.S. stocks opened lower but then rose, with several securities putting in stellar performances. Vivus rocketed up 89 percent after a Food and Drug Administration panel approved its weight-loss drug Qnexa. Sears Holdings shot up more than 20 percent on word it will spin off some businesses and sell some properties. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose .36 percent to nearly 12,985; the Nasdaq was up .81 percent to nearly 2,957; and the S&P 500 closed up .43 percent to 1,363.46. European stocks closed mixed.

Bonds. Treasuries fell again, burnishing the appeal of corporate bonds for investors seeking better yields at the same time that corporations are taking advantage of ultra-low interest rates. Since November the premium of investment-grade corporate bond yields over Treasury yields has fallen to 1.9 percentage points from 2.5 percentage points.

Currencies. The euro climbed to a 10-week high against the dollar. The single currency is at its strongest level since last November.

Commodities. Crude oil rose on both sides of the Atlantic, while copper fell for the second straight day on a lack of Chinese demand. Most agricultural commodities fell, with cocoa down more than four percent and cotton falling more than one percent.