Stocks hit session highs and the Nasdaq rose more than 1 percent on Thursday, helped by strong gains in technology and consumer discretionary shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 78.98 points, or 0.65 percent, to 12,165.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 9.40 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,306.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 29.39 points, or 1.09 percent, to 2,727.69.