U.S. stocks surged for a second day on Thursday, with benchmarks turning higher for the year, as oil steadied and on thinking the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank would buttress the global economy.
"There is enough slack in the overall global economy and the U.S. economy to keep the Fed more inclined to keep rates low. They'll probably feel the need for some time in 2015 because they've signaled that, but probably not until late in the year," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank.
"With the Fed reemphasizing in the minutes that they are concerned about overseas markets, investors will more explicitly factor in what is going on in Europe and Japan in coming weeks," added McCain, referring to a release Wednesday afternoon from the U.S. central bank, which had members voicing concerns about slowing growth overseas.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, fell nearly 12 percent to 17.01.
Investors drew a collective sigh of relief at the halt in the rapid spiral down in the price of crude, with West Texas Intermediate losing more than 40 percent of its value in the last three months.
"When you're losing weight, and you lose two, three or five pounds, you feel good. If you suddenly lose 50 pounds, you're worried something is wrong," said McCain of the distress created by the crude's plunge.
Apple rallied after the release of figures showing customers spent nearly $500 million on applications and in-app services in the first week of the year. Costco Wholesale climbed after the warehouse retailer reported a better-than-expected increase in same-store sales last month; Family Dollar Stores fell after the discount retailer reported quarterly earnings short of estimates, and J.C. Penney dropped after the retailer said it would close about 40 stores in the next year.
Data Thursday had jobless claims dropping by 4,000 to 294,000 last week, with the better-than-expected number coming a day before the payrolls report for December.