NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks soared Thursday as investor optimism was lifted by a strong reception for

General Motors'

(GM) - Get Report

massive IPO and Ireland's decision to soften its stance on accepting aid for its banks.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

jumped 173 points, or 1.6%, to settle at 11,181. The

S&P 500

surged 18 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 1197, and the

Nasdaq Composite

closed 38 points, or 1.5% higher, at 2514.

Sentiment was extremely positive with nearly 80% of the stocks trading on the NYSE recording gains.

Basic materials, conglomerates and capital goods sectors saw the strongest gains of the session with

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

,

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

and

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

posting the biggest percentage increases within the Dow.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

was the only component that ended in the negative territory and

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

,

Walmart

(WMT) - Get Report

and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

recorded the mildest gains among the blue chips.

Shares of

General Motors, which resumed trading under the ticker "GM" on the

New York Stock Exchange

on Thursday, rose 3.6% to $34.19,after opening at $35.

Ford's

(F) - Get Report

stock was down by 3.4% at $16.12.

GM priced its initial public offering at $33 a share and sold roughly 478 million shares on Wednesday.

Proceeds from GM's stock offer, which is potentially worth $23 billion, will go toward paying back the U.S. government, ending the government's role as a majority shareholder after the automaker entered bankruptcy protection in June 2009.

"The GM IPO, which at this stage, appears to be successful, is the most visible, single element contributing to today's rally," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. Creatura also said signs that Ireland appeared more willing to accept aid for its banks lifted overseas markets and gave the U.S. market an early boost.

On Thursday, Irish Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan told Irish broadcaster RTE that

Ireland would likely seek a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund worth tens of billions of euros. Global stocks soared on the news, which helped mitigate eurozone contagion fears.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.8%, and Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.1% higher. The FTSE in London advanced 1.3%, and the DAX in Frankfurt gained 2%.

The euro rose against the dollar, moving to $1.3630 from $1.3515 late Wednesday, and the dollar traded lower against a basket of foreign currencies, with the dollar index down 0.6%.

The weaker dollar lifted commodity prices. The January crude oil contract gained $1.38, or 1.7%, to settle at $82.42 a barrel. The December

gold contract added $16.10, or 1.2%, to settle at $1353 an ounce.

The number of people filing initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 13, from a previous 437,000. According to Briefing.com, economists had expected the number of

initial jobless claims to rise to 442,000 from the prior week's initially reported level of 435,000.

Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region surged in November, according to the Philadelphia Fed's index, which hit 22.5 after October's level of 1. According to Briefing.com, economists had been expecting a much milder reading of 5.

The Conference Board said October leading indicators rose 0.5% after similar growth in September. The increase was just below the 0.6% uptick that economists had been expecting, according to Briefing.com.

Cablevision's

(CVC)

stock was up 6.8% to $30.91 as its management explored a potential spin-off of its Rainbow Media business as a "tax-free pro rata distribution" to shareholders.

Shares of

Limited Brands

(LTD)

were trading 4.4% higher to $33.26 after the retail company exceeded third-quarter expectations, lifted its full-year outlook and announced a buyback of up to $200 million.

Humana's

(HUM) - Get Report

stock was down 2.1% to $56.81 after the health benefits company forecast fiscal 2011 earnings that missed the consensus estimate for a profit of $6.11 a share.

Shares of

Sears Holdings

(SHLD)

were down by 3.8% to $63.70 after it reported a wider third-quarter loss of $1.98 a share, dashing expectations for a loss of $1.08 a share. Sales fell 5% to $9.68 billion, missing estimates for revenue of $9.89 billion.

Shares of

NetApp

(NTAP) - Get Report

were up 8% to $53.12 after the storage and data management company surpassed analysts' expectations with earnings of 52 cents a share.

After the bell,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

said its quarterly profits grew to $822 million or 42 cents per share up from $337 million or 17 cents a share a year earlier. Shares were up 6% in extended trading.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note declined 5/32, lifting the yield to 2.901%.

.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Venkataraman in New York

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.