U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday, with the S&P 500 on track for weekly gains, as companies including Facebook reported better-than-expected quarterly results and data had the economy expanding in the fourth quarter as consumer spending gained traction.
"Today the market is focused on the good news, or the developed world," Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management, said of economic growth in the U.S. and other industrialized nations. And, "when you cut through all the clutter of the earnings news, it's pretty darn good, at least relative to expectations," Stone said.
"At the moment it seems like emerging markets are our new Europe, that's our headline risk," Stone added of the trouble spots that roiled Wall Street on Wednesday, helping push the Dow industrials down 189 points.
Facebook gained after reporting a 63 percent jump in revenue in the fourth quarter, beating expectations; Google rose after Lenovo Group agreed to acquire its Motorola mobile-phone business for $2.91 billion. Exxon Mobil shares fell in early New York trading after the oil company reported a 16 percent decline in quarterly profit. Visa tallied a 9 percent rise in quarterly profit as more consumers used its cards.
Ahead of the open, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy expanded 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, with consumer spending rising 3.3 percent.
Beyond the GDP data, the Labor Department reported weekly jobless claims rose 19,000 to 348,000 last week versus an 328,000 estimate.
Equities only briefly pared their gains after a report had pending-home sales in December falling 8.7 percent in December.