Updated from 4:17 p.m. EDT

Tech stocks led the market higher Thursday, as a deluge of solid monthly chain-store reports and another sharp decline in oil prices enticed buyers.


Nasdaq Composite

gained 19.93 points, or 0.87%, at 2323.90. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 38.58 points, or 0.34%, to 11,438.86, while the

S&P 500

was up 4.40 points, or 0.34%, at 1312.25. The Dow closed at another six-year high.

The Nasdaq benefited from a 1.3% gain in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector index, including a rise of 0.9% in


(INTC) - Get Report


Meanwhile, the Dow's climb was aided by gains of 1.2% or more in


(AA) - Get Report



(MSFT) - Get Report



(HPQ) - Get Report


"Earnings seasons has been going extremely well, but we still run into a resistance level," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist with Windham Financial. "It's taking a lot of work and energy, including two sharp declines in oil prices, to even run up to these levels."

About 1.74 billion shares traded on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers beating decliners by a 5-to-3 margin. Trading volume on the Nasdaq was 2.09 billion shares, and winners topped losers 3 to 2.

In other markets, the 10-year Treasury bond was down 2/32 in price to yield 5.15%, and the dollar rose against the yen and euro.

"The equity market and the bond market continued to play chicken with each other," said Dave Briggs, head of equity trading with Federated. "It's hung in through such a difficult time, but it's hard to see an upside catalyst. Overall, the market has done very little, even though there's a ton of cash out there."

The session was aided by chain-store returns, with April results coming in better than expected at


(COST) - Get Report



(KSS) - Get Report



(ANF) - Get Report



(WMT) - Get Report

said same-store sales grew 6.8% in April, in line with the estimate the company gave over the weekend and higher than analysts' expectations. The world's largest retailer expects May same-stores sales growth of 2% to 4%. Wal-Mart was off 29 cents, or 0.6%, to finish at $46.40.

Late Wednesday,


(SBUX) - Get Report

said second-quarter earnings rose 27% to $127 million, or 16 cents a share -- 2 cents better than expected. The coffee chain also raised full-year guidance. Starbucks added $1.44, or 3.9%, to close at $38.79.


Whole Foods

( WFMI) also saw quarterly earnings jump 27%, to $51.8 million, or 36 cents a share. The profit was a penny ahead of forecasts, while second-quarter sales also topped estimates. Whole Foods surged $8.27, or 13.3%, to $70.42.

To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here


Other retail winners included


(TGT) - Get Report





Pacific Sunwear




(GES) - Get Report


Limited Brands


, all of which beat same-store sales estimates for April.

Oil prices, whose 3% decline Wednesday failed to spark the stock market, fell further as traders weighed a relatively bountiful inventory picture. June crude dropped $2.34 to close at $69.94 a barrel, leaving the contract now lower for the week.

"Energy and crude oil declined yesterday after testing their old highs," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "That highlights higher volatility in the energy stocks over the past few weeks. Volatility often increases at the end of a trend. Until energy can decisively break out through the old high, you have to figure it's topping out here."

Precious metals continued their march higher. Gold for June delivery rose $8 to $676.50 an ounce, close to a 26-year high. Silver futures were up 3 cents to $13.82 an ounce, near multiyear highs.

By sector, the Amex Oil index lost 0.8% the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index fell 0.4%. Among gainers, the Amex Gold Bugs index added 1.7% and the S&P Retail index tacked on 0.4%.

The economic docket included the Labor Department's report on first-quarter worker productivity, which rose 3.2%. The number came in slightly above economists' expectations. Unit labor costs, a key figure for the Fed to watch, rose 2.5%, also higher than expected.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose 5,000 to 322,000 last week. Initial jobless claims are now at the highest level this year. On Friday, the government releases its employment report for April. Economists are currently looking for a payroll gain of 200,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to hold at 4.7%.

"If the jobs number is too strong the bond market will be crushed," warned Briggs. "However, if the number is too weak people will wonder if the economy is weakening. It will have to be just right tomorrow, or we'll see the equity market sell off."

Back on the corporate side,



said second-quarter profits rose fivefold from a year ago, reflecting lower taxes and fewer charges. Adjusted earnings were 45 cents a share, 3 cents better than forecast. Tyco rose 98 cents, or 3.6%, to $27.92, despite lowering its full-year earnings guidance.

Eastman Kodak

( EK) posted a first-quarter loss of $298 million, or $1.04 a share, widening from a loss of $146 million, or 51 cents a share, last year. Sales were up 2% to $2.89 billion. The average estimate was for EPS of 5 cents on revenue of $3.06 billion. The stock slid 59 cents, or 2.2%, to $26.76.

Struggling retailer

Pier 1

(PIR) - Get Report

said its first-quarter loss is going to be much wider than expected after same-store sales tanked 11.5%. The company is evaluating strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of its credit card portfolio. Pier 1 tumbled $1.92, or 17.6%, to $9.

Video-game publisher

Electronic Arts

( ERTS) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $16 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with earnings of $8 million, or 2 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 16% to $641 million.

Excluding certain items, Electronic Arts earned $43 million, or 14 cents a share, beating expectations for earnings of 9 cents a share on revenue of $581 million. However, the company offered first-quarter guidance that fell below most analysts' expectations. Shares dropped $5.95, or 10.9%, to $48.55.

Among ratings moves, Citigroup raised its rating for


(AMZN) - Get Report

to hold from sell, while Oppenheimer raised

Barrick Gold


to buy from hold.

Amazon was higher by 51 cents, or 1.5%, to close at $34.47. Barrick Gold jumped $2.05, or 6.6%, to $33.08.

Overseas markets were mostly higher, with London's FTSE 100 adding 0.5% to 6041 and Germany's Xetra DAX up 1.2% to 6032. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1% overnight to 17,014, while Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.