Stocks rose on Thursday, buoyed by optimism about the economic recovery after stronger-than-expected manufacturing and jobs data.

Overseas manufacturing reports, including one from China, also bolstered sentiment. Energy and materials shares led the S&P 500's gains as the news suggested improving global demand for commodities. U.S. oil futures hit a 2010 high above $85 a barrel.

The Dow edged closer to the 11,000 mark, climbing intraday as high as 10,956.39 -- its highest since late September 2008. Exxon Mobil Corp , up 1 percent at $67.63, ranked among the top positive influences.

U.S. manufacturing activity in March rose to its highest level in 5-1/2 years, the Institute for Supply Management said, and the level beat expectations. A separate report showed jobless claims fell more than expected for the week.

The manufacturing side of the economy continues to expand, and the numbers were good. I think investors should be pleased with the trend, said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 67.49 points, or 0.62 percent, at 10,924.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 8.38 points, or 0.72 percent, at 1,177.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 7.67 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,405.63.

The data came a day before the government's key nonfarm payrolls report, although the stock market will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.

China's vast manufacturing sector saw March orders climb, according to two business surveys, pointing to brisk first-quarter GDP growth, while euro-zone factory activity grew last month at its fastest pace in over three years.

Micron Technology Inc shares advanced 1.5 percent at $10.53, also one day after the computer chipmaker delivered its second quarterly profit in nearly three years, a result much better than expected.

But a downbeat influence came from Research in Motion Ltd , whose shares fell 5.4 percent to $69.97 a day after the BlackBerry smartphone maker posted quarterly profit and sales that lagged expectations.

Oil shot up $1.46 to $85.22 a barrel, an 18-month high, while the S&P energy index <.GSPE> rose 1.6 percent. The S&P materials index <.GSPM> advanced 1.8 percent.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal)