U.S. stocks rallied on Thursday, moving the S&P 500 back in positive territory for 2011 ahead of the last trading day of the year on the latest positive signals on the U.S. economy.

Based on the available data, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 135.63 points, or 1.12 percent, at 12,287.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 13.36 points, or 1.07 percent, at 1,263.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 23.76 points, or 0.92 percent, at 2,613.74.

(Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)