Stocks climbed Thursday, led by banks, after investors cheered a pair of employment reports that showed better-than-expected results and as retailers posted monthly chain-store sales that largely outpaced estimates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped, led by JPMorgan and Intel , after finishing higher in the previous session.
Meanwhile, IBM was among the few laggards on the blue-chip index after Wells Fargo cut its rating on the tech giant to "marketperform" from "outperform."
The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were also higher. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 16.
Financials and materials led the key S&P sectors, while health care slipped.
Private sector added 157,000 jobs, according to payroll processing firm ADP. The report was far more expected in the month of June, and well ahead of the 68,000 figure that economists polled by Reuters had expected. May's figure was revised down to an increase of 36,000 from the previously reported 38,000, which had been an eight-month low.
Meanwhile, claims for unemployment benefits slipped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000 in the previous week, according to the Labor Department. The decline is more than that 420,000 figures that economists had expected.
Investors are focusing on the key government jobs report on Friday. Employers are expected to have added 90,000 jobs, according to a poll of economists by Reuters.
"One thing is an absolute: Tomorrow's number will influence hiring and consumer sentiment for the rest of the summer," said Todd Schoenberger, managing director of LandColt Trading. "Stocks have been on a tear, so traders may be more inclined to unload stocks following the number, even if it surprises on the upside."