NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks rose nearly 1 percent in morning trading on Thursday after data indicated the U.S. economy may see faster growth than economists have anticipated. New claims for unemployment insurance fell more than expected last week to their lowest level in two months and the U.S. trade deficit narrowed more than forecast in July as exports shot to their highest level since August 2008, painting a rosier picture for economic growth.
Financial stocks led gains, with Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) up 3.6 percent to $13.85. The KBW bank index (.BKX) rose 2.7 percent.
«The news flow has been positive over the last few days compared to what is was through most of August,» said John Toohey, vice president of equity investments at USAA in San Antonio.
«You put that together with the fact sentiment among investors had turned more bearish than it has been since early 2009, you are ripe for a rally.»
Fears of a double-dip recession have kept investors at bay and the stock market in a tight trading range for several months.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) added 61.91 points, or 0.60 percent, to 10,448.92. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX) rose 9.49 points, or 0.86 percent, to 1,108.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) gained 17.27 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,246.14.
Capping gains in the Dow industrials, McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) dropped 2.7 percent to $74.03 after its August sales in Europe weakened from a year ago.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) has been fined $27 million by a UK financial regulator for failing to disclose it was under fraud investigation by its U.S. counterpart. Its shares rose 1.3 percent to $149.46.
Volume is expected to be low again as the Jewish New Year is celebrated and many market participants stay on the sidelines. The six lowest volume days of the year have come in the last month.