Stocks Rally, Led by Energy; BP Rebounds

Stocks opened higher Thursday after a drop in jobless claims and confirmation of strong Chinese exports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped over 250 points in early trading, putting it back above the 10,000 mark, after sliding more than 40 points in the prior session.

All 30 Dow components were higher, led by Caterpillar , Chevron and DuPont .

The government said unemployment filings fell by 3,000 last week to 453,000. That number was slightly higher than expected but continuing claims were at their lowest since December 2008.

Meanwhile, the April trade gap widened to $40.29 billion and China confirmed that its exports grew about 50 percent in May from a year earlier.

The European Central Bank held its key interest rate at a record low of 1 percent. The Bank of England also kept interest rates steady.

The euro was up nearly 1 percent against the dollar as strong demand in a Spanish auction eased concerns about how the country will fund its large debt.

BP rebounded more than 10 percent after falling to a 13-year lowon Wednesday as investors speculated that the company may need to cut its dividend and worried about its financial stability. The stock's decline left the company's market cap at around $82 billion as of the close Wednesday, half of what it was just a few months ago.

British oil executives lashed out at the Obama administration for its criticism of BP and UK prime minister David Cameron, under pressure from home to support BP, said the UK stands ready to help the company clean up the spill. Cameron is expected to speak with President Obama by phone over the weekend.

Crude oiltopped $75 a barrel as the International Energy Agency said the spill could be a "game changer" for supply while increasing its estimate for demand this year.

Just a handful of decliners on the board today, including Goldman Sachs , Walgreen , Research In Motion and Newmont Mining .

Apple shares underperformed the broader market after AT&T said some iPad users have had personal information exposed via a network security flaw, two months after the tablet computer was launched and smashed sales expectations.

And gold, that safe-haven play investors have been piling into, dropped more than $10to below $1,220 an ounce as investors' appetite for risk came back.

Pfizer rose even as the US FDA warned the companyabout failing to quickly report serious and unexpected potential side effects from its drugs already on the market.

A couple of earnings beats this morning — Del Monte Foods and Lululemon Athletics .

Shares of National Semiconductor rose ahead of the chip maker's earnings, due out after the bell today.

Asian stocks rose, but fears lingered that the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis may be spreading. Tokyo and Taipei markets were up over 1 percent, as above-average Chinese export data fuelled confidence that the global economic recovery is on track. The Nikkei ended 1.1 percent higher, moving away from six-month lows hit the previous day, after strong Chinese exports boosted hopes for the global recovery.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on the future of U.S. economic relations with China at 10 a.m. EDT.

— Reuters contributed to this article.

Still to Come:

THURDSAY: Quarterly services survey; Geithner testimony; 30-yr bond auction; Treasury budget; Earnings from Nat Semi after the bell
FRIDAY: Fed's Plosser and Kockerlakota speak; retail sales; consumer sentiment; business inventories; S&P index rebalancing details announced

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