U.S. equity markets raced higher overnight as indices continued to recover from a modest pullback at the start of April.
By the close the Dow Jones had soared 181 points to 12,986, with the NASDAQ leaping 39 points to 3056.
In a recent speech, Federal Reserve official Janet Yellen made the case for sticking to the central bank's low interest-rate policies and says the Fed might need to take additional action to bolster the economy.
In corporate news, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is due to report results after the closing bell Thursday, with Wall Street expecting substantial profit and sales gains, while anticipating some weakness in search revenue.
The company is expected to report a profit of $9.64 per share, on revenue of $8.1 billion, according to a consensus survey by FactSet Research.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) gained over 6% after a study found shipments of personal computers unexpectedly climbed in the first three months of 2012.
Gartner concluded that H-P retained its lead in PC shipments, accounting for 17% of the global market in the first quarter.
drugstore chain Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) said Thursday that fourth quarter losses narrowed as the company benefited from growth in same store sales and an extra week during the period.
For the three months that ended March 3, the third largest US drugstore chain reported a net loss of $161.3 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $205.7 million, or 24 cents per share, a year ago.
Revenues rose almost 11 percent to $7.1 billion, from $6.5 billion in the prior year thirteen-week quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, a loss of 14 cents per share on $7.15 billion in revenue.
Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) Thursday confirmed it will cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global workforce, in order to turn around its money-losing TV business over the next two years.
Sony earlier this week more than doubled its annual net loss projection for the fiscal year through this past March to 520 billion yen, or $6.4 billion, its fourth straight year of losses.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is selling the distribution business for its Bucyrus mining equipment unit to one of its Australian dealers in a $400 million transaction. Caterpillar acquired mining equipment maker Bucyrus for $7.6 billion in 2011.
Oaktree Capital Group started trading under the ticker OAK after the asset management firm raised $378 million through an initial public offering Wednesday. Oaktree sold 8.8 million shares at $43 each, the low end of its estimated range.
On the economic front, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose 13,000 to 380,000 in the April 7 week, for the highest level since late January.
These numbers are up from a reading of 367,000, which was also revised higher.
Analysts polled by Bloomberg gave a consensus estimate of 359,000 claims for the latest week.
The four-week average is up an especially steep 4,250 to 368,500 which is the highest level in a month, suggesting no real improvement in the jobs market.
But separate reports showed no increase in overall wholesale prices in March, which was better than the 0.2% increase forecast, and the nation's trade deficit declined unexpectedly in February.
In NYMEX futures trading, oil was 0.9% higher at $103.64 a barrel while
European stocks closed higher with the FTSE 100 gaining 1.3% while both the DAX and the CAC 40 rising 1%.