U.S. stocks continued to rally on Thursday’s afternoon session ahead of Friday’s all-important September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The S&P 500 Index is up 11.59 points, or 1.01 percent, to trade at 1,155.62 at 3:28 p.m. ET.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 104.67 points, or 0.96 percent, to trade at 11,044.62.  The Nasdaq Composite is up 1.16 percent.

U.S. investors are comforted by a pair of better-than-expected jobs report released so far this week.

On Wednesday, ADP reported that September private-sector payrolls gain totaled 91,000 versus the consensus estimate of 75,000, according to Bloomberg.

On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 1 was 401,000, which is better than the expected figure of 410,000, according to Bloomberg.

In 2011, the ADP report and initial jobless claims report released on the week of the BLS jobs report have not been good predicators of the BLS jobs report figure. Still, investors counted this week’s upbeat jobs data so far as positives.   

More good news also came out of Europe.

At Thursday’s monetary policy meeting, the European Central Bank (ECB) reintroduced one-year loans to banks and billions in uncovered bond purchases to alleviate the European debt crisis and address the threat of a European banking meltdown.

Moreover, outgoing ECB Chairman Jean-Claude Trichet’s dovish tone left room for interest rate cuts in coming ECB monetary policy meetings.

S&P chief equity strategist Sam Stovall, who called the current bounce, said it wouldn’t take much for the market to rally given the low expectations and excessive pessimism that are already priced in.

However, Stovall thinks it will only be a “counter-trend” rally that will fizzle out in late 2011 or early 2012.