Wall Street has best 2-day gain since 2011 on Fed optimism about the US economy

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Dec 18, 2014, in New York City. The stock market had its best day of 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Dec 18, 2014, in New York City. The stock market had its best day of 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed out its biggest two-day advance since November 2011 on Thursday, extending a Federal Reserve-fueled rally from the previous session, while tech shares jumped after Oracle results.

The Dow industrials recorded the best one-day percentage gain since December 2011. The S&P 500 posted its biggest daily percentage gain since January 2013 and is up 4.5 per cent in the last two sessions.

Equities' rally followed the Fed's upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy on Wednesday and a commitment to take a "patient" approach toward raising interest rates.

A 3-per cent jump in the technology sector also helped Thursday's advance. Oracle Corp jumped 10.2 per cent to US$45.35, a day after quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations. Shares of Apple climbed 3 per cent to US$112.65.

"What happened this week was a game-changer. That easy money trade came to the forefront, and it's so powerful it wipes out all of these concerns that exist," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 421.28 points, or 2.43 per cent, to 17,778.15, the S&P 500 gained 48.34 points, or 2.4 percent, to 2,061.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added 104.08 points, or 2.24 per cent, to 4,748.40.

U.S. crude fell 4.2 percent, but the S&P Energy sector ended up 2.1 per cent.

The S&P 500 had fallen nearly 5 per cent from its most recent record high on Dec. 5 before the strong gains on Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier in the session, data showed weekly jobless claims fell more than expected, suggesting the labor market continues to strengthen. However, readings on the U.S. services sector and mid-Atlantic factory activity indicated a slower pace of growth.

About 8.7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.5 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.