Stocks rose on Thursday as a surprise profit from Alcoa Inc and reassuring monthly sales from major retailers, including Macy's Inc , bolstered economic recovery hopes.

The upbeat tone was helped by a government report that the number of U.S. workers filing new jobless claims slid to a nine-month low last week. Shares of economically sensitive sectors led gains.

Alcoa Inc shot up 3.5 percent to $14.71, a day after the Dow component posted its first profit after three consecutive quarterly losses on cost savings and higher aluminum prices.

The S&P materials index <.GSPM> rose 1.3 percent.

The earnings news seems to be off to a good start, said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at NorthStar Investment Management Corp in Chicago. The world is returning to normal.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 60.38 points, or 0.62 percent, to 9,785.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 7.34 points, or 0.69 percent, to 1,064.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 13.81 points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,124.14.

The benchmark S&P 500 has rallied nearly 60 percent since hitting 12-year lows in early March. It is on track to snap a two-week losing streak.

Shares of natural resource companies also got a boost from U.S. dollar weakness, which propelled gold to a record of $1,058.20 an ounce and underpinned gains in silver and palladium.

In broad terms, September retail sales were better than expected, suggesting shoppers are loosening their purse strings ahead of the crucial holiday season. Shares in the Standard & Poor's Retail Index <.RLX> added 1.3 percent.

Macy's rose 1.8 percent to $18.93 after the department store operator posted a smaller-than-expected drop in September same-store sales.

Teen apparel chain Abercrombie & Fitch Co saw same-store sales drop 18 percent, better than the 21 percent decline predicted by analysts. Its shares rose 6 percent to $34.59.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)