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Defying expectations that recent selling would accelerate after another unexpectedly large rise in weekly jobless claims, major averages rallied on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

After trading as low as 9410.42 early on and as high as 9502.84 late Thursday, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

closed up 0.4% to 9459.76. The

S&P 500

ended up 0.5% to 1016.42 vs. its intraday high of 1020.88 and low of 1010.92. A day after suffering a relatively outsize decline, the

Nasdaq Composite

was the strongest performer, rising 1.2% to 1846.10 after trading as high as 1852.60 and as low as 1819.40.

As shares improved midday, Treasury prices weakened. The price of the benchmark 10-year note fell 13/32 to 99 13/32, its yield rising to 4.32%. (In so-called other markets, gold rose fractionally while the dollar was strong vs. the euro and yen.)

On

Wednesday, the Comp succumbed to concerns about chipmakers, specifically, and valuations of tech shares in general. Thursday, the index recouped about 45% of the ground lost the prior day, thanks to some better-than-expected earnings from

Adobe Systems

(ADBE) - Get Adobe Inc. Report

, raised guidance by

TriQuint Semiconductor

(TQNT)

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, and some positive comments on

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

by influential software analyst Rick Sherlund. The Nasdaq 100 gained 1.4%.

Advancing stocks bested declining issues by about 2-to-1 in both

Big Board

and over-the-counter trading. At 1.3 billion and 1.7 billion shares, respectively, volume was down from recent levels but not as dramatically as some expected, considering the day.

Clearly, Thursday wasn't a "normal" day by any means, given the various 9/11-related observances, formal and otherwise. As such, I thought it would be an opportune time to step back and take the pulse of market participants beyond the daily market action.

Survey Says

While it's always tough to determine the true consensus of market participants, here's what I've gleaned from talking with a number of sources in recent days:

"Everybody" is worried about the financials and the nonconfirmation by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index when the S&P hit its highs last week. (On Thursday, the BKX rose 0.5% to 864.74);

"Everybody" is thinking about opportunities in groups that have lagged year to date, be they big-caps in general or energy stocks in particular. ( RealMoney.com contributor Alan Farley offered some specific recommendations among laggards earlier this week). Conversely, "nobody" likes tech (save the permabulls and folks at Schaeffer's Investment Research), retail, classic cyclicals, dot-coms, or biotech. Proxies for each of those groups rallied over 1% Thursday, save the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index, which rose 0.6%;

"Everybody" is wary of a correction but very few are getting out of long positions, largely because they're more scared about missing out on the next upswing. On the other hand, scant few of those who were bearish in springtime have come over to the bullish view (more on that in a forthcoming column.);

"Everybody" thinks employment is a lagging indicator, which is why the market was able to shake off news that jobless claims rose to 422,000 for the week of Sept. 6 while the prior week's losses were revised to 419,000 from 413,000. Very few are talking about how job losses had long since bottomed by similar points in past recoveries, as detailed here last month.

And, of course, everyone is grieving in their own way Thursday, myself included.

War and Remembrance

Now that the market has closed, I did want to share some thoughts about 9/11. Mainly, I'm remembering former Cantor Fitzgerald strategist and

RealMoney.com

contributor Bill Meehan, and lamenting that I didn't get to know him better when I had the chance.

As with many Americans, the attacks on 9/11 awakened me to how fleeting life is, and I'm thinking about other friends/colleagues I've lost since the attacks, including Jim Seymour.

Finally, I'm feeling grateful for my wonderful family and my many friends, including two lifelong buddies who -- by fate -- were running late to their jobs at the World Trade Center on the morning of the attacks.

Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to

Aaron L. Task.