Wall Street rose for the first time in three days on Thursday as investors bought back into stocks after two days of losses, after reports showed a drop in unemployment claims and a better-than-expected sales performance by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The S&P 500 added 9.01, or 0.7 percent, to 1,363.50 at 2:05 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91.36, or 0.8 percent, to 12,618.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 35.93 , or 1.6 percent, to2,358.05. More than two stocks gained for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, rose to a three- year high boosted by shoppers that sought out discount food and electronics. Citigroup Inc. and Wachovia Corp. rallied, helping financial shares rebound from earlier loses, after Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said the credit crisis may be near the end.

Wal-Mart gained 86 cents to $55.00. The world's largest retailer reported a 0.7 percent growth in March sales t and the company lifted its forecast for first-quarter earnings. First-quarter profit may be 74 cents to 76 cents a share, compared with an earlier forecast of 70 to 74 cents, the retailer said.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. erased earlier losses to advance 1.3 percent after it predicting its first-quarter earnings per share may be as much as 32 percent below forecasts.

In financial stocks, Citigroup, the largest U.S. bank, climbed 30 cents to $23.88 after earlier falling 2 percent. Wachovia, the fourth-biggest, gained 94 cents to $27.56. Goldman, the world's largest securities firm, dropped $2.91 to $171.23.

Cisco Systems, the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment, gained 65 cents to $24.19 after Morgan Stanley said it may beat analysts' revenue estimates in its fiscal third quarter.