U.S. stocks gained on Thursday for the first time in three days after an unexpected drop in jobless claims and oil prices retreated from record breaking heights.
Oil first rose to a new record high of $135.09 a barrel overnight, as supply concerns increased after a report showed that the International Energy Agency will downgrade its estimate of global supplies later this year. The price fell back $2.36 to close at $130.81, as traders took profits from a four-session winning streak.
The S&P 500 added 3.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,394.35. The Dow increased 24.43, or 0.2 percent, to 12,625.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 16.31, or 0.7 percent, to 2,464.58. More than three stocks climbed for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Financial stocks, which were down in the past two sessions, led the way higher on the Dow, with American Express Co. up 1.9 percent, Bank of America Corp. up 0.3 percent, Citigroup Inc. up 3 percent and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. up 1.5 percent.
First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell back in the latest week, dropping by 9,000 to 365,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The decline in jobless claims suggested that companies are responding to the current economic slowdown by cutting back on hiring rather than letting go of more staff, in contrast to previous economic slumps.