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Stocks Rally Amid Hope for Recovery; BP Rises

Stocks were higher in afternoon trading Thursday, led by energy and industrials, as encouraging economic news out of the U.S. and China fueled recovery hopes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 200 points, putting it back above the 10,000 mark, after a 40-point drop in the prior session.

Most of the 30 Dow components were higher, led by Caterpillar , Chevron and American Express.

Cisco was the lone decliner, down about half a percent.

The S&P 500and Nasdaq were both trading up over 1 percent. The CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell near 31.

Some experts agreed that stocks will climb higher into the summer.

“We’re coming off of an oversold situation,” said Mark McLain, managing director of Landenburg Thalmann & Co. “I think this rally will last.”

Stocks are now near a bottom, said U.S. equity strategist Thomas Lee of JPMorgan, speaking at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York. The S&P 500 will jump more than 10 percent to reach 1,200 by the end of July and hit 1,300 by the end of this year, he projected.

Oil prices topped $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.

BP rebounded more than 10 percentafter 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.

Other energy giants such as ExxonMobil , Chevron and ConocoPhillips advanced 2 to 3 percent.

Just a handful of decliners on the board today, including Goldman Sachs , Sears and AutoZone .

Shares of Goldman Sachs broke an important technical level at the $135 area today, said OptionMonster analyst Bryan McCormick in comments on the firm's website.

"The $135 area had been a key level three times in the last five years, being alternately a breakout zone, support, and then failed support," McCormick said. He pegs the next major support at the $128 area, with $135 acting as major resistance.

Walgreen shares were also lower after UBS cut the drugstore chain's rating to "neutral" from "buy."

In the day's economic news, the government said the number of U.S. workers filing new unemployment claims fell less than expected last week, while the international trade deficit widened slightly in April, pointing to a moderate economic recovery.

The national foreclosure rate continued to fall in Mayfrom the previous month, according to foreclosure database website RealtyTrac. Foreclosure activity dropped 3.27 percent in May from the previous month, and was up 0.45 percent from May 2009.

Treasurys trimmed their lossesafter a decent auction of 30-year bonds. The $13 billion sale fetched a high yield of 4.182 percent and the bid-to-cover ratio was 2.87.

Meanwhile, 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 dollaras strong demand in a Spanish auction eased concerns about how the country will fund its large debt. 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.

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

Meanwhile, Google blasted Apple for setting new rules on developers that could prevent Google and other competitors from selling advertisement inside the iPhone and iPad apps, the latest sign of growing tensions between the two smartphone makers.

Pfizer rose even as the FDA warned the companyabout failing to quickly report serious and unexpected potential side effectsfrom 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.

Still to Come:

THURDSAY: 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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