(Updated with stock prices.)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major averages rose as much as 1% Thursday as investors greeted a wave of earnings, economic data and executive compensation developments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 131.95 points, or 1.3%, to 10,081.31, with help from Travelers ( TRV), which rose 7.7% after topping earnings estimates and raising guidance. The S&P 500 advanced 11.51 points, or 1.1%, to 1,092.91, and the Nasdaq, which was in negative territory most of the day, advanced 14.56 points, or 0.7%, to 2,165.29. Amazon ( AMZN) topped estimates immediately after the close, sending shares more than 9% higher in post-market activity. Among the afternoon's headlines, U.S. pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, announced provisions for salaries of 175 employees at firms receiving government aid. Cash salaries won't exceed $500,000 for 90% of executives, among other regulations. Earlier, the Fed issued a proposal to supervise incentive compensation policies of banking organizations that have led to excessive risk-taking, contributing to bank losses and financial instability. The proposal, which is open to a comment period, includes the review of policy and practices at 28 large banks, in addition to the review of compensation practices at regional, community and other banking organizations not classified as large and complex. The Dow got an early-day lift after the Conference Board said its index of leading indicators increased more than expected, by 1%, in September after an 0.4% increase the month prior. Earlier, the government said that new weekly jobless claims rose more than expected, by 11,000 to 531,000, but the four-week moving average edged down 750 to 532,250. Continuing claims fell more than anticipated, to 5.29 million, from 6.02 million.
Meanwhile, there were 309 quarterly reports scheduled for Thursday, according to Yahoo! Finance. So far this earnings season, the majority have come in better than analysts had estimated, but Wall Street has been harder to impress. "The market appears to be wrestling with, among other things, the question of how much of the better earnings and improved economic news has already been priced into stocks and why aren't the better results lifting the stock market?" writes Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management. This is in part because investors bought stocks in anticipation of improved earnings, and portfolio managers beefed up positions simply to keep from being left out of more increases, and because traders have shifted to a short term "sell on the news" strategy, Pavlik writes. Nonetheless, the path of least resistance still appears to be up, says Tim Murphy, U.S. general manager for youDevise, a global financial technology company that runs a trade ideas service for institutional investors and brokers. "The number of short ideas in the system continue to shrink," he says, adding that while there is profit-taking in moderation, two out of every three new ideas are long. The percentage of long ideas being created in the system is now 67%, having let up a little since reaching a year high of 73% a week ago. Month to date it's averaged 69% long, he says. Sentiment, as measured by which way brokers who use their system believe the market is going to go, is 55%, he says, with any number over 50 representing a bullish case.
Dow Chemical ( DOW), AT&T ( ATT), Merck ( MRK), UPS ( UPS) and Swiss drugmaker Novartis ( NVS) all topped earnings estimates. Swiss bank Credit Suisse ( CS) fell 0.5% despite exceeding analysts' expectations as it swung to a third-quarter profit of 2.4 billion Swiss francs ($2.38 billion) from a year-earlier loss of 1.26 billion francs. Not faring as well, Ericsson ( ERIC), the Swedish telecommunications maker, gave up 3.5% after reporting that third-quarter profit fell 71%, as sales of network equipment declined on lower demand. Stocks overseas were mostly lower. In Europe, the FTSE in London fell 1.1%, while the Dax in Frankfurt edged down 1.2%. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively. Data out of China showed third-quarter gross domestic product increased slightly less than expected, by 8.9% from a year earlier, while separate reports showed industrial production fell and retail sales picked up in September. Crude oil futures fell 18 cents, to $81.19, while gold gave up $5.90 to $1,058.60. -- Written by Elizabeth Trotta in New York.