The Dow gained 92 points, or 0.6%, to 16612, on track to top its April 30 record closing high of 16580.84. The S&P 500 rose nine points, or 0.5%, to 1888. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rallied 35 points, or 0.9%, to 4102, bouncing back after closing Wednesday at a three-week low.Traders pointed to optimism that the European Central Bank could soon loosen its monetary policy as giving an immediate boost to U.S. stocks. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday that its governing council may take measures to push inflation higher when it meets in June, boosting the Stoxx Europe 600 index 1.1%.
Another factor, according to Darren Wolfberg, head of U.S. cash equity trading at BNP Paribas in New York, was that short-term investors were stepping back into the market to buy shares of recently volatile stocks. The Global X Social Media Index ETF, a proxy for many recently beaten-down stocks, rose 2.4%. Twitter rose 7.4% after tumbling 21% in the previous two sessions on the heels of a post-IPO lockup expiration.Even with the Dow poised for another record close, investors have voiced caution about committing money to the market in recent days. Turbulence in previously strong-performing Internet and biotechnology sectors had inflicted deep losses for investors. In April, hedge funds posted back-to-back monthly declines for the first time in two years, according to research firm HFR Inc.
Asian markets got a lift from the Chinese trade data, with the Shanghai Composite rising 0.3% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average adding 0.9%.
Gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,289.50 a troy ounce, while crude-oil futures fell 0.6% to $100.18 a barrel.The dollar gained ground against the euro but fell versus the yen.On the economic front, initial claims for jobless benefits during the latest week fell by 26,000 to 319,000, versus expectations of 325,000.