Updated from 4:21 p.m. EST

Stocks in New York locked in 1%-2% gains Thursday, with financials and tech finding upside, as the promise of a stimulus package and next-step bank-relief effort played out alongside a mixed pot of retail declines, and an ugly set of economic data.

Led by a 4.6% rise in

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and a late-day 5.2% gain in

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 106.41 points, or 1.3%, to 8063.07, and the

S&P 500

added 13.62 points, or 1.6%, to 845.85. The

Nasdaq

tacked on 31.19 points, or 2.1%, to 1546.24.

The financial sector got a slight bump today, with KBW Bank index off its high, but still up 1.8%, after

CNBC

reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission might be looking to suspend or restructure the so-called mark-to-market accounting rules that have punished banks' balance sheets as they struggle with the market value of distressed assets.

As to dealing with those distressed assets, on Monday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will unveil the next banking-relief package, the aid measures for the financial industry, reportedly including some answer to "bad bank" concept, among other things.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, a possible beneficiary of the "bad bank" idea, pared its losses after dwindling to $4 a share earlier in the day, closing up 3% at $4.84.

Deutsche Bank

(DB) - Get Report

, down 3.4% for the session, said Thursday that

it swung to a record $6.17 billion loss in the fourth quarter, in line with its preliminary estimate, and said the bank continues to see "very difficult conditions for the global economy, posing significant challenges for our clients and for our industry."

Sticking with earnings, investors appeared to shrug off comments by

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, which reported better-than-expected earnings on the one hand, but had a rather downbeat outlook on the other. The company said it now expects sales for the fiscal third quarter to be well below analysts' expectations. Shares added 3.2% to $16.35.

Tech as a whole didn't seem to mind either, as shares got a boost on Thursday. The tech-centric

Nasdaq 100

(QQQQ)

rose 2.2% on the day. Among the bigger movers,

Akamai Technologies

(AKAM) - Get Report

added 18%, and

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

tacked on 9.2%.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

climbed 2.2% and 3.1%, respectively.

January retail sales numbers flooded headlines on Thursday, and as expected, considering the economic environment, the majority are reporting moderate to steep declines -- some not as severe as expected, others more-so.

Moreover, declines weren't one-size-fits all. For instance,

Saks'

(SKS)

same-store sales fell by 23.7%, while

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

saw just a 4.5% decline. For the day, Saks shares ticked up 1.3% and Macy's garnered 5.2%.

According to a tally by Thomson Reuters based on same-store sales, seven retailers it tracks surpassed expectations and five missed projections.

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

and

Chicos

(CHS) - Get Report

reported declines, but topped analyst estimates. Shares were up 3.4% and 11.7%, respectively, for the day.

Companies that reported steeper-than-predicted declines in sales included

Wet Seal

(WTSLA)

, Stage Stores and

Children's Place Retail Stores Inc.

(PLCE) - Get Report

. Wet Seal and Children's Place both managed to stay in positive territory, nonetheless, finishing +1.1% and +0.4%.

Discount-store operator

Dollar Tree

(DLTR) - Get Report

reported that its same-store sales rose 2.2%, subsequently upping its expectations for fourth-quarter and full-year results. But investors weren't exactly crowing -- shares plummeted 16.1%.

One definite bright spot was

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, which said

same-store sales in January rose 2.1%, topping their own predictions for flat-to-2%, and Street expectations for 1.1% increases.

The company said it would no longer provide monthly sales forecasts -- shifting to a 13-week format -- because of the difficulty in predicting swings in consumer spending in the current volatile environment.

Turning to stimulus news, Washington is abuzz with a potential vote on President Barack Obama's historic economic stimulus package becoming near. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly said the final vote could occur as early as Thursday night. On Wednesday senators unanimously approved an amendment that provides a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers.

The latest economic data gave the country yet another reminder of the severity of the situation, as the Labor Department said Thursday the number of laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 626,000, from 591,000 a week prior, and far exceeding analysts' expectations for 583,000.

Meanwhile, The Commerce Department said factory orders declined by 3.9% in December, outpacing economists' predictions for a 3% slide.

The banking and housing crises and the trade deficit are central culprits dragging the economy into recession and causing steep job losses, wrote Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Morici predicts the proposed stimulus package, consisting of expansion of government programs, some infrastructure projects and personal and business tax cuts will give the economy a needed temporary lift the latter half of 2009 and into 2010 and 2011. However, he warns that "the package moving through Congress is too weighed down with special interest spending and tax breaks sought by lobbyists to replace any more than half of the jobs that will be lost by mid-2009."

On Friday, the Labor Department will release the highly anticipated non-farm payroll figures and unemployment rate for the month of January. Expectations are for a decline of more than 500,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.5%.

In commodities, crude oil rose 85 cents to settle at $41.17, while gold gained $12 to settle at $914.20.

Longer-dated Treasuries were recently rising; the 10-year note adding 11.5/32 to yield 2.9%, the 30-year was gaining 1 03/32, yielding 3.6%.

The dollar was recently weaker against the yen, and stronger against the euro and pound.

Stocks overseas were mixed. In Europe, the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were just atop the flat line. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed with a 1.1% loss, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.8% in the session.