The broad S&P 500 climbed 0.80% to 4,585.59, while the blue-chip Dow added 62.95 points, or 0.17%, to 36,117.38. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.37% to 14,339.99 as technology stocks outperformed.
The Nasdaq has also outperformed over the course of the week, gaining about 0.2%. The Dow and S&P 500 are on pace to finish the week lower by around 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively.
Thursday's gains snapped the first three-day negative streaks since October for the Dow and S&P 500. Those losses had raised concerns around if the late-2023 rally was stalling. The three major indexes still remain poised to finish the fourth quarter and calendar year higher, underscoring the strength of the rally seen earlier.
The job market has been a focus of investors this week amid a series of mixed data releases.
Weekly jobless claims released Thursday were below economist expectations and a reading of continuing jobless claims declined, indicating that the pace of layoffs hasn't increased. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield initially popped on the back of the figures, reflecting concerns around the strength of the labor market despite the Federal Reserve's efforts to tame inflation. The yield was last up nearly 3 basis points at 4.148%.
Private payrolls data issued on Wednesday showed that employers added fewer positions than economists forecasted.
Meanwhile, the volume of job openings in October fell to its lowest level since March 2021, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday.
It left traders with a confusing picture ahead of the main event: Friday's official jobs report. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect that 190,000 jobs were added in November, a step up from the prior month. Investors are hoping for signs of cooling in the labor market, leaving the Federal Reserve comfortable with its decision to halt interest rate hikes.
"The market has more than likely gotten ahead of itself in forecasting rate cuts for early next year," said Alex McGrath, chief investment officer at NorthEnd Private Wealth. "The jobs number tomorrow could dump an ice bath on sentiment."
Stocks close Thursday higher
Investors should expect a recession in 2024, Citi says
Many are anticipating a "goldilocks" scenario in 2024, but Citi said it's not as optimistic. The Wall Street firm expects a recession will start in the second quarter of next year.
"Early signs suggest that the rapid rise in policy rates over the last two years – and need to hold them there to bring down inflation – will lead to a recession next year," Andrew Hollenhorst wrote in a Wednesday note.
"Even factoring in a recession, core inflation is likely to remain 'sticky' above the 2% target for all of 2024. In our base case the Fed cuts rates 100bp next year, starting in July," he added.
— Sarah Min, Michael Bloom
Cruise demand still going strong
Cruise lines are expecting even more passengers to board their ships next year, with 35.7 million passengers expected to set sail in 2024, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). That's more than the 31.5 million who cruised in 2023 and 6% higher than 2019.
Many on Wall Street remain bullish on the stocks. Each company has an average analyst rating of overweight, according to FactSet.
To read more about what analysts are saying about cruise stocks right now, read the CNBC Pro story here.
— Michelle Fox
U.S. crude closes below $70 for second day
U.S. crude declined slightly on Thursday, closing below $70 a barrel for the second day in a row.
WTI shed 4% on Wednesday, closing below $70 for the first time since late June.
Oil traders are increasingly bearish with record U.S. production and a weakening economy in China. The OPEC+ production cuts announced for the first quarter have not been able to move the needle so far.
— Spencer Kimball
Stocks keep gains entering final trading hour
Stocks remained poised to end Thursday's session higher as the last hour of trading commenced.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite outperformed, advancing 1.2%. It's the only of the three major averages on track to finish the week higher.
— Alex Harring
Potential for economic slowdown can weigh on stocks in early 2024, CIO says
Stocks may not get a boost in the early innings of 2024 as a potential economic slowdown looms, but likely will advance later in the year, according to Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management.
"In the early months of 2024, it is unclear whether the projected fall in inflation and softer Fed messaging will be enough to bolster equities in the face of a likely economic slowdown," Ma said. "As 2024 progresses, however, we believe that equity markets will respond positively to the approaching Fed rate cuts and the economic stabilization and upturn that we expect by the spring or summer months."
Still, he said gains in the new year should be relatively broad based across both size and the growth-versus-value spectrum.
Emerging markets also are well-positioned to benefit from declining interest rates and an improved global growth outlook in 2024, added Ma. He also underscored investment potential in Japan on the back of structural changes and actions that include more shareholder-friendly policies.
— Alex Harring, Hakyung Kim
Tech stocks act as 'difference maker' for U.S. markets, analyst says
Technology shares are to thank for Thursday's market gains, according to Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.
The three major U.S. indexes are up, led by the Nasdaq Composite. On the other hand, Europe performed "rather poorly."
"Tech is the difference maker," he said.
Still, Erlam said investors may be cautious ahead of Friday's closely followed jobs report.
"I do think there's still some apprehension ahead of some huge economic readings from the world's largest economy," the analyst said.
— Alex Harring
GameStop grants Ryan Cohen the power to buy equities for the company
The company announced in its quarterly filing Wednesday evening that its investment policy now allows the use of company funds to purchase equities, and that Cohen is in charge of corporate investment.
GameStop did not hold a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the quarter and the changes, but Wedbush's Michael Pachter said in a note to clients that the decision was "inane" and "alarming."
Shares of GameStop rose about 2% on Thursday.
— Jesse Pound
Here's what analysts took away from McDonald's investor day
Analysts maintained their positive view on McDonald's