Stock prices moved higher Thursday, snapping a five-session losing streak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 55.04 points to 15,328.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.33 points to 3,787.43, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 5.90 points to 1,698.67.
Investors were encouraged by a report showing initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 to 305,000. Analysts were expecting a higher number of claims. Key reports on personal income and spending will be released before the start of trading Friday.
Commodity prices were mixed. Gold fell $12.10 to $1,324.10 an ounce and oil was up 37 cents to $103.03 a barrel.
EBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) jumped 4.5 percent after agreeing to buy Braintree for $800 million to expand its mobile-transactions business.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBY) added 4.5 percent after raising the low end of its earnings forecast. Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) fell 3 percent to $51.04 as its experimental drug ramucirumab failed to meet its goals for treating breast cancer in a late-stage trial.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) sank 16 percent $21.63 after cutting its forecasts.
About 5.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 8.6 percent below the three-month average.
The benchmark index declined 1.9 percent during a five-day losing streak through Wednesday, retreating from an all-time high Sept. 18, when the Federal Reserve refrained from reducing the pace of stimulus. Investors have been watching economic reports to help determine whether growth is sufficient for the central bank to begin cutting bond purchases at its next meeting in October.
A Labor Department report Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, indicating further progress in the labor market. The economy expanded at a faster pace in the second quarter from the previous three months, with gross domestic product rising at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said.
A separate report added to signs that rising mortgage rates may have slowed housing market momentum. Fewer Americans signed contracts in August to buy previously owned homes, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed. Data on Wednesday indicated purchases of new homes rose in August, capping the weakest two months this year.
Investors are also weighing whether lawmakers can avoid a looming government shutdown, with the S&P 500 paring an earlier gain of as much as 0.7 percent after House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he doesn’t expect his chamber to pass a stopgap spending bill expected from the Senate.
He also said he does not expect a government shutdown to happen.
The Senate likely will not vote on its version of the bill until this weekend, leaving the House just one full workday to act before spending authority for the federal government expires Oct. 1. The House and Senate are at odds over language that withdraws funding for the 2010 health care law.
Nike Inc. (NKE: NYSE), which reported better-than-estimated quarterly earnings after the market’s close Thursday, rose the most in the Dow, climbing 2.1 percent to $70.34.
EBay climbed 4.5 percent to $56.64, its biggest rally since January. The owner of electronic-payments service PayPal said it will bolster that business by buying Braintree, a global payments platform that works with online and mobile-only startups such as room-rental service Airbnb and online restaurant-reservation company OpenTable Inc. (Nasdaq: OPEN).
Bed Bath & Beyond gained 4.5 percent to $77.54. The retailer predicted full-year adjusted earnings per share of $4.88 to $5.01, up from a previous range of $4.84 to $5.01.
J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) climbed 3 percent to $10.42, halting a six-day slide that peaked with a 15 percent plunge yesterday. The department-store chain repeated that it expects positive sales trends in the second half of the year, with some key items and sizes helping sales at stores and online. The shares have plunged 47 percent this year amid concern that it is running out of cash.
Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) lost 9.9 percent to $21.62 for the biggest retreat in the S&P 500. The electronics company that counts BlackBerry Ltd. as its second-largest customer said Wednesday it will probably disengage from the struggling Canadian device maker in coming months.
— Bloomberg contributed to this report.