Updated from 4:07 p.m. EDT
Dow Jones Industrial Average
staged a late-afternoon rally Thursday to again close at a record high, as investors brushed past rising oil prices and embraced strong reports from major retailers.
After spending most of the session below the flatline, the Dow closed up 16.08 points, or 0.14%, at 11,866.69. The
tacked on 3 points, or 0.22%, to 1353.22. The
was higher by 15.39 points, or 0.67%, at 2306.34.
provided support for the Dow, adding 4.1% to $68.24.
helped to boost the Nasdaq, surging 7.6% for the day.
"The Dow has continued to move higher, reflecting the fact that investors are continuing to put funds into the market," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC. "Most investors probably expected the market to tread water, given the jump of oil prices today, so this is a bit of a surprise."
Crude was back on the rise Thursday after reports that OPEC will cut oil production by 1 million barrels a day as soon as possible. The world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is lowering its production by 300,000 barrels a day from last month.
Oil futures ended higher by 62 cents, to $60.03 a barrel, off the session high of $60.97.
Trading volume and breadth were down slightly from Wednesday. About 2.73 billion shares changed hands on the
New York Stock Exchange
. Advancers beat decliners by a 2-to-1 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.95 billion shares, with winners beating losers 2 to 1.
On Wednesday, a broad-based rally led the major U.S. averages to impressive gains. After a slow open, the Dow surged 123.27 points, or 1.05%, to 11,850.61. The S&P jumped 16.11 points, or 1.21%, to 1350.22, and the Nasdaq soared 47.30 points, or 2.11%, to 2290.95.
Because it's the first Thursday of the month, the bulk of the nation's retail-chain operators reported their same-store sales. The results were mostly strong, with the exception of
. The world's largest retailer said same-store sales rose 1.3%, matching the estimate it had revised lower just a day ago. Wal-Mart closed down $1.14, or 2.3%, at $48.41.
posted a better-than-expected 6.7% same-store sales rise and said it expects to beat analysts' third-quarter earnings estimates.
Teen apparel retailer
Abercrombie & Fitch
closed nearly 5% higher after reporting a 10% gain in same-store sales for September, beating the average estimate of a 5.5% increase. Abercrombie gained $3.34 to $75.08.
Other chains with strong sales growth included
, which said September comp sales rose 12%, and
, which said last month's same-store revenue was up 8.7%. At
, comps climbed 13.4%.
Among the losers were
, where same-store sales slid 21%,
, with a 10.1% drop in comparable sales.
The news was similar for
, as comp sales declined 3% in September. Gap gave back 10 cents, or 0.5%, to $19.26.
Elsewhere, shares of Starbucks jumped after the company reported a 6% advance in comp sales for September, beating estimates. The coffee seller rose $2.73 on the day to finish at $38.69,
CEO Steve Jobs knew the company had improperly backdated some of its option grants, the company said after conducting an internal investigation. However, the probe found that Jobs wasn't aware of the potential accounting problems the issue would raise. Apple lost 55 cents, or 0.7%, to finish at $74.83.
Elsewhere in the tech space, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed criminal charges against Patricia Dunn, the former chair of
, and four others related to the company's secret program to access director phone records. Shares of H-P fell 18 cents, or 0.5%, to $37.84.
said it has received a delisting notification from the Nasdaq, which comes after the college operator failed to file a fiscal 2006 report with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
by the deadline. Corinthian missed the deadline because of a review of its stock-option grants. The stock tacked on 8 cents, or 0.7%, at $11.94.
The economic docket was light as a data-heavy week winds down. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 17,000 to 302,000 last week. The big number comes Friday, when the government releases its nonfarm payroll report for September.
Economists expect that U.S. employers added roughly 120,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate likely remained at 4.7%.
Overseas, European indices finished higher. London's FTSE 100 was adding 0.6% to 6005, and Germany's Xetra DAX was up 0.5% at 6075. Stocks surged in Asia, as Japan's Nikkei finished 2.3% higher at 16,449. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 17,907.