Wall Street stocks rose on Thursday as higher profit from JPMorgan offset concern after Moody's threatened to downgrade the United States' top credit rating if the federal borrowing limit is not raised.

A report showing new claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell slightly last week also helped buoy stocks.

JPMorgan's results were welcomed by investors who have been buffeted by worries about excessive government debt at home and in Europe. The bank's forecast-beating quarter came as it wrote off fewer bad mortgages and credit card loans, sending the shares up 3 percent to $40.82.

But analysts said deadlocked debate over budget cuts and raising the debt ceiling would weigh on the market after Moody's announcement on Wednesday.

It came shortly after the ratings agency gave Portuguese debt a junk rating and as Europe's debt crisis appeared to be spreading.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York, said that JPMorgan's results were a boost for the market but sentiment remained sensitive to big macro issues.

There seems to be some hope this morning that the media focus on the White House and Congress will result in a budget deal and the two sides will get together, he said. When that news comes out -- if it does -- we should see a pop in the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 78.07 points, or 0.62 percent, to 12,569.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 8.23 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,325.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 18.43 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,815.35.

The equity market has generally taken the debt ceiling wrangling in its stride and continues to do so -- judging by the lack of follow-through from the selloff in futures last night when Moody's action was announced.

President Barack Obama clashed with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday in a fierce White House meeting on deficit reduction that left a deal in question as the clock ticked toward a debt default.

Euro zone countries continued to grapple with the thorny issue of involving the private sector in tackling Greece's debt pile as they prepared for a meeting to decide support for the country next week.

Wall Street ended higher on Wednesday on expectations further stimulus measures could be on the horizon after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed is ready to ease monetary policy further if economic growth and inflation slow much more.

Shares of Yum! Brands rose 3.3 percent to $57.42 as the fast-food firm raised its full-year earnings forecast late on Wednesday after China helped deliver quarterly earnings for the company that topped Wall Street's forecast.

Marriott International Inc fell 7 percent to $34.42 as the hotel firm reported higher quarterly earnings that matched analyst estimates and gave a tepid forecast for the year, also late Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips will split itself into two by spinning off its refining arm, the third-largest U.S. oil company said on Thursday, sending its shares up 5.6 percent to $78.58.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Kenneth Barry)