NEW YORK (AFP) - United States (US) stocks closed solidly higher on Thursday after US data pointed to an improving employment and housing picture.
In closing trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84.79 points (0.63 per cent) to 13,596.02.
The broad-based Standard & Poor's 500 increased 8.31 points (0.56 per cent) to 1,480.94.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 18.46 points (0.59 per cent) to 3,136.0.
Stocks "remain firmly north of the flatline", thanks to "upbeat reports from the US housing and employment fronts,” broker Charles Schwab said during trade.
The Department of Labour released data on Thursday that pointed to the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims in five years.
Meanwhile, Commerce Department data showed the number of new houses under construction rebounded strongly in December.
Among the big gainers on Thursday, CBS rose 8.3 per cent, helped by an upgrade from Wedbush analysts after it said it would sell off its international outdoor advertising business and convert its domestic outdoor advertising operations into a real estate investment trust.
Boeing picked up 1.2 per cent after the shares fell sharply on Wednesday following the grounding of its new 787 Dreamliner in the wake of problems on several of the aircraft.
Fast-food company Chipotle, which was in retreat earlier in the week, gained 3.3 per cent.
Large banks came under pressure on Thursday following uninspiring earnings reports.
Bank of America dropped 4.2 per cent after it reported slim earnings due to extensive litigation-related costs.
Citigroup, another victim of the 2008 housing bust, lost 2.9 per cent after it reported a large earnings miss.
Not all banks were in retreat. Regional bank Fifth Third Bancorp gained 4.8 per cent after reporting higher quarterly earnings.
Computer chip maker Intel rose 2.6 per cent after reporting earnings that bested expectations.
Semiconductor firm KLA-Tencor gained 7.0 per cent.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose from 1.82 per cent late on Wednesday to 1.88 per cent late on Thursday. The yield on the 30-year US Treasury rose from 3.02 per cent to 3.07 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.