U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday as oil and other commodity prices rose while retail sales and weekly jobless claims data increased hopes for an economic recovery.

Shares of Chevron Corp rose 1.8 percent to $71.47 and ranked among the Dow's major advancers as oil hit $72.78 per barrel, its highest since mid-October, on a forecast for a rise in demand and U.S. dollar weakness. The greenback's slide also lifted other commodity-related stocks, with aluminum maker Alcoa up 4.3 percent at $11.98.

U.S. data showed May retail sales rose 0.5 percent, but the rise was mostly due to higher gasoline prices. Excluding autos and gasoline sales, sales were up 0.1 percent.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 601,000, which was better than expected, suggesting improvement in the U.S. labor market.

The rise in oil prices has been helping because the market is so heavily weighted to energy stocks. Eventually it is going to hurt, but right now it is helping, said Todd Leone, head of listed trading at Cowen & Co in New York.

The market is also looking at the (economic) recovery, be it slow; the data was OK this morning.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 59.48 points, or 0.68 percent, to 8,798.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 7.91 points, or 0.84 percent, to 947.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 8.21 points, or 0.44 percent, to 1,861.29.

Some investors fear that rising commodity prices, combined with climbing U.S. Treasury yields, may hurt a recovery and spur a stock market correction, and are eyeing the results from a 30-year bond auction at 1 p.m. EDT for clues on rising borrowing costs.

Bank of America shares shot up 8.1 percent to $12.95 after KBW analysts raised the rating on the bank's stock and its price target by more than 37 percent to $16.50.

Further bolstering bank shares, Goldman Sachs upgraded Regions Financial Corp , up 9.8 percent at $4.39 on the NYSE, and Fifth Third Bancorp , up 6 percent at $7.79 on Nasdaq. The KBW Bank index <.BKX> rose 3.2 percent.

IBM's stock gained 1.3 percent to $109.73 and provided the biggest boost to the Dow industrials. The company said its first rail innovation center will help it tap into China's spending of 5 trillion yuan ($731 billion) in the sector.

On the downside, Boeing shares fell 2.9 percent to $50.79 after the big U.S. aircraft maker slashed its forecasts for new plane demand due to the industry downturn. Boeing was the top drag on the Dow, limiting its advance.

The S&P 500 has jumped 40 percent since hitting a 12-year closing low on March 9, but has held below 950 points in June as investors look for signs the economy is on the mend.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)