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) -- The Dow advanced 22 points Thursday as stocks refused to give up solid gains made on declining initial jobless claims, strong earnings results and a better outlook on the eurozone's ability to contain Greece's debt crisis.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 122 points, or 1.1%, to 11,167. The

S&P 500

added 15 points, or 1.3%, to 1207, and the


rose by 40 points, or 1.6%, to 2512.

Michael Pento, senior market strategist at Delta Global Advisors, attributed the session's strength to the ongoing yo-yo between optimism and pessimism regarding Greece's rescue plan.

"Today's prevailing feeling is that Greece's bailout is coming, so you're seeing an unwinding of safe haven plays with the dollar down and gold lower. Rather than selling the U.S. equity market, people are buying U.S. equities."

"It's my personal opinion that any bailout will be temporary because of contagion pressures," Pento added. "There's still a lot of systemic risk."

Greece contagion fears abated Thursday as that nation pledged to move forward on strict austerity measures, bringing it steps closer to finalization of a financial rescue plan.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8%. Japan's markets were closed. The FTSE in London gained 0.6% and the DAX in Frankfurt rose 1%.

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oil spill caused by an explosion on the offshore rig operated by


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and owned by


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was 15 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Officials believe it could reach the shoreline in parts of the Mississippi River delta as early as Friday evening. Shares of Transocean and BP fell by 7.5% and 8.3%, respectively.

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The Economy

Initial weekly jobless claims fell by 11,000 to 448,000 from 459,000 a week ago. The level met economists' expectations for claims of 445,000.

The Energy Information Administration said natural gas storage levels rose by 83 billion cubic feet in the week ended April 23, which was much higher than analysts' forecasts for an injection in the range of 72 billion to 76 billion cubic feet, according to Platts.

President Obama

nominated San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen as vice chairwoman of the central bank, replacing Donald Kohn, who plans to retire in June. The president also nominated Sarah Raskin, a Maryland commissioner of financial regulation, and Peter Diamond, a Michigan Institute of Technology economist, to board positions. The nominations all require confirmation by the Senate.

Late Wednesday, Democrats gained enough votes from Republicans after three previous attempts to allow debate to begin on financial reform legislation.


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Company News

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report

surpassed analysts' expectations with an adjusted profit of 89 cents a share and said it expects year-end earnings to grow 4% to 6% from a year ago. Shares, however, lost 1.5%, making it the Dow's biggest decliner, followed by

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

. The oil company missed analysts' estimates for a profit of $1.41 a share despite a 38% earnings increase. Exxon's stock shed 0.8%, to $68.66.


(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

stock also dragged on the Dow, losing 0.8% to close at $52.88. H-P agreed to acquire ailing handset maker


( PALM) for $1.2 billion. Palm shares, meanwhile, jumped 26% to $5.84.

American Express

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Bank of America

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(DD) - Get DuPont de Nemours, Inc. Report

were the Dow's best performers.



shares finished nearly 27% higher at $50.18 after being halted following news that it won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its prostate cancer vaccine, Provenge.


( MOT) swung to a profit in the first quarter, beating expectations and lifting shares by 3.5% to $7.16.

First-quarter earnings at

Burger King


slipped 13%, but the company managed to top Wall Street estimates by a penny. Burger King also said sales fell by 1% to $596.9 million and same-store sales dropped 3.7%. Its stock rose 3.5%, to $21.42.


(UL) - Get Unilever Plc Report

reported a 31% increase in first-quarter earnings and sales growth of 6.7%. Shares gained 4% to $30.44.


(MT) - Get ArcelorMittal SA Report

said improved output and shipments helped it swing to a profit of $679 million in the first quarter. The stock shed 81 cents, or 2%, to $40.14.


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Commodities and the Dollar

The June natural gas contract lost 37 cents, or 8.5%, to settle at $3.98 per million British thermal units after government data showed a higher-than-expected increase in natural gas storage levels. Crude oil for June delivery, meanwhile, gained $1.95, or 2.3%, to settle at $85.17 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the June

gold contract lost $3 to settle at $1,168.80 an ounce.


dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies with the

dollar index down by 0.4%.


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The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 8/32, lowering the yield to 3.738%.

The two-year note increased 1/32, dropping the yield to 1.012%. The 30-year bond strengthened 16/32, diluting the yield to 4.601%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York



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