Qualcomm Inc led the Nasdaq, jumping 7.7 percent to $43.28 after it raised its second-quarter earnings outlook.
Best Buy Co reported improved demand in its key holiday quarter and forecast a strong year ahead. Best Buy climbed 7.3 percent to $44.17.
It gives the tech sector an extra boost because there was the feeling in the market that post-Christmas the consumer was going to disappear, said Nick Kalivas, vice president of financial research and senior equity index analyst at MF Global in Chicago. The fact that the consumer still looks fairly interested in electronics is fairly significant.
The market was further boosted after the government said the number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance fell sharply last week.
Sovereign debt issues remained in focus ahead of a European Union summit later Thursday, as EU leaders appeared to be nearing a consensus on a way to help Greece.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 65.15 points, or 0.60 percent, to 10,901.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 6.85 points, or 0.59 percent, to 1,174.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 18.59 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,417.35.
Citigroup Inc shares rose 3.1 percent to $4.28 after Bloomberg News reported the U.S. Treasury could unveil a plan next month for the sale of its stake in the big bank.
While it presents a supply glitch in the near term, it's a sign the financial system is healing and that's supportive, said Kalivas of MF Global. The S&P financial index <.GSPF> gained 1.3 percent.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)