Major stock indexes climbed 2 percent or more yesterday, sparked by hints of a tech recovery and sustained by promising economic news.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 222.14 points, or 2.6 percent, to 8845.15, and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 19.61 points, or 2.2 percent, to 933.76.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq did particularly well. Responding to better-than-expected earnings from Hewlett-Packard, the index surged 48.20 points, or 3.4 percent, to close at 1467.55, its highest level since June 19.
The hardware and software maker reported strong sales in its printer division and posted a $390 million profit for the quarter, compared with a $505 million loss a year ago. Fourth-quarter earnings of 24 cents per share, excluding charges, beat analysts' expectations by 2 cents.
That news, coming on the heels of Analog Devices' announcement of increased demand for its microchips and IBM's pledge to invest $1 billion in selling research services, signaled to investors that "things in tech land weren't as bad as previously perceived," said Ned Riley, chief investment strategist for State Street Global Advisors.
A slew of better-than-expected economic indicators further fueled the market's rise.
The number of people filing for unemployment benefits last week fell from 401,000 to 376,000, the lowest in four months, the Labor Department said. Many observers had been expecting the number of claims to swell to 416,000.
That reassured analysts and investors, who have been counting on Americans' frequent trips to the mall to keep the economy afloat.
"The one mainstay of the U.S. economy right now is the consumer," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co., "and the employment data relate directly to consumer confidence as we get closer to the Christmas shopping season."
The Federal Reserve branch in Philadelphia said manufacturers surveyed in its region reported an improvement in business in November, after two months of declines. The survey's index, which measures new orders, shipments and investment plans, rose to 6.1 from negative 13.1 in October, its lowest point since November 2001. A positive number means a majority of surveyed businesses saw improvement.
"Institutions are coming out of bonds and into equities because bonds are extremely expensive historically right now," said John O'Donoghue, co-head of equity trading at Credit Suisse First Boston. "Part of the reason they feel comfortable doing that trade is because of the decent economic numbers coming out."
The Conference Board, a business research group, said its widely-watched index of leading economic indicators stayed the same last month, after a 0.4 percent drop in September. Board economist Ken Goldstein described the economy as "fragile" and said the indicators, which are designed to project economic activity over the next three to six months, did not point to a positive outlook.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 8.69, to 493.12; the American Stock Exchange index rose 2.55, to 826.21; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 9.09, to 397.68.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 11 to 5 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 2.42 billion shares, from 1.52 billion on Wednesday. On the Nasdaq, advancers outnumbered decliners by 13 to 6 and volume totaled 2.38 billion, up from 1.73 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $7.50 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.15 percent, from 4.06 percent on Wednesday.
* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 122.70 yen, up from 122.65 late Wednesday, and a euro bought $1.0012, down from $1.0018.
* Light, sweet crude oil for January delivery settled at $26.35 a barrel, up 26 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery was unchanged at $317.40 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.