U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday after a surprising quarterly profit from Alcoa Inc got third-quarter earnings off to a strong start.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 61.29 points, or 0.63 percent, to end unofficially at 9,786.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> ended up 7.90 points, or 0.75 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,065.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 13.60 points, or 0.64 percent,

to close unofficially at 2,123.93.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal)