U.S. Markets

The S&P 500 index surpassed the 1300-point level twice today, the first time the index reached that plateau since August, 2008, as U.S. stocks finished slightly up today on mixed earnings reports.

The S&P 500 edged up 0.22 percent, closing at 1,299.54, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which broke 12,000 points four times throughout the day, climbed 0.04 percent. The Nasdaq rose 0.58 percent, while the 10-year bond yield was down slightly as S&P reported that it was lowering its rating on Japanese debt.

European Markets

European stocks markets advanced for the second day on Thursday, led by gains from mining sector stocks after a softer start, while a downgrade of Japan's credit rating by Standard & Poor's limited gains.

European stock markets ended higher with FTSE 100 down by 4.13 points, DAX up by 28.23 points and CAC 40 up by 10.50 points.

Fresnillo Plc, the world's largest primary silver company, gained 0.97 percent and Rio Tinto Group advanced 0.6 percent as metal prices increased.

Software AG surged more than 6 percent as the company's profit beat analysts' estimates and said it aims to grow large enough to join Germany's benchmark DAX Index.

Asian Markets

Most Asian stock markets ended higher on Thursday as sentiment was buoyed after the US Federal Reserve left its key interest rates and the bond-buying plan unchanged.

Tokyo shares advanced , led by gains from exporters companies shares amid optimism over the pace of the U.S. economic recovery  after official U.S. data showed that new home sales jumped to an eight-month high in December .

Japanese benchmark index Nikkei rose 0.74 percent or 76.76 points to 10,478.66. SONY CORP advanced 1.71 percent, CANON Inc. gained 2.19 percent and Honda Motors, which gets most of its revenue from abroad, gained 2.02 percent.

South Korean Seoul shares ended higher, following data showed that the South Korean economy grew 6.1 percent last year, it's quickest since 2002. Benchmark Seoul composite gained 4.55 points or 0.22 percent to 2,115.01.

Chinese stock markets advanced for the second day as gains in commodity related and telecom companies' shares offset declines in Property shares. Shanghai composite advanced 1.47 percent or 39.88 points to 2,748.69.

Property shares underperformed amid expectations of an interest rate hike after the government said Wednesday it would raise the minimum down payment on second-home purchases to 60 percent from 50 percent.   

Meanwhile, shares in Hong Kong fell, led by declines from property developers after the Chinese government introduced further property tightening measures aimed at cooling prices.

Gold

Gold fell 1.1 percent to $1,318.4, a four-month low, in the wake of a speech given by Europe Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet at the World Economic Forum today in which he said major central banks are focused on holding inflation in check.

Oil

Commodities got hit hard today, as oil dropped 2 percent on higher-than-expected jobless claims in December, and on an announcement by Kuwait Petroleum Corp.'s CEO that oil production may have to be increased due to rising oil prices. 

U.S. crude oil for March delivery fell 92 cents, or 1.05 percent, to $86.41 a barrel.