NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks soared Thursday, extending this week's dizzying up-and-down action, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average retraced much of its recent decline with help from modest improvement in employment data and a strong quarterly report from Cisco ( CSCO).

The last five sessions have made for the largest one-day percentage moves in the history of the Dow.

The blue-chip index finished up 423 points, or 3.9%, at 11,143. The S&P 500 was higher by 51.8 points, or 4.6%, at 1172, and the Nasdaq advanced 111.6 points, or 4.7%, to close at 2492.

"It's like a basketball game," said Paul Nolte, director of investments with Dearborn Partners. "I don't think we will see a v-shaped pattern to the upside but it would be nice if markets could settle into a 4% to 5% trading range instead of moving on a daily basis by that much."

Technology stocks were a bright spot after Cisco posted better than expected earnings late Wednesday and broke with its pattern of disappointing guidance, saying it sees year-over-year revenue growth of as much as 4% in the quarter. The stock jumped more than 15% to top the Dow.

Financial stocks also showed strong gains with Bank of America ( BAC) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) among the Dow's biggest gainers alongside Exxon Mobil ( XOM).

Bank of America gained 7% on news that it had held exploratory talks with sovereign investment funds in Kuwait and Qatar to raise capital by selling a $17 billion stake in China Construction Bank. Electronic traded fund Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF) closed ahead 5.6% at $12.87.

"We're tracking the relationships between different sectors," said Nolte. Healthcare, consumer and utilities stocks started to outperform the market in April, but the trend may reverse with energy and materials stocks starting to outperform, he explained. "We normally see an ebb and flow in the course of three to 12 months" between stocks and bonds, and between different sectors, Nolte said.

All 30 companies on the Dow traded in positive territory on a day that saw 82% of the 7 billion shares that traded on the New York Stock Exchange rising and only 18% declining. Some 2.9 billion stocks changed hands on the Nasdaq.

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Volatile trading following news that an Asian bank had severed credit lines to major French lenders gave way to substantial gains after the Labor Department reported initial jobless claims fell unexpectedly to a four-month low in the first week of August.

News that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss options to strengthen the eurozone helped European markets close higher. The FTSE in London rose 3.1%, the DAX in Frankfurt jumped 3.1% and the CAC-40 in Paris gained 2.9%.

"The bottom line is the market is trying to discount all of the worst negative scenarios," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "We need to see the European Central Bank take firm leadership and provide some substance to alleviate the fear factor -- and I think that's coming."

In an attempt to calm recent market volatility, officials in Europe will put a temporary ban on short-selling of European stocks after the close today, according to news reports. The effectiveness of short-selling bans at curbing volatility is yet to be seen.

Earlier, Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down by 1%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 0.6%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury, which has rallied as of late, slipped 1 9/32, lifting the yield to 2.33%. An unsuccessful 30-year bond sale compared to the well-received Treasury auctions earlier this week pushed yields on the 30-year up to 3.79%. The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.3%.


As equities looked more attractive, gold cooled off after a string of record highs. The yellow bullion retreated after the Chicago Mercantile Exchange raised the amount of money needed to buy a speculative gold futures contract . Gold hit a nominal high of $1,817.60 an ounce in overnight trading. Gold for December delivery lost $40 to settle at $1,751 an ounce.

Oil prices rose with the September crude oil contract adding $2.83 to settle at $86 a barrel.

In corporate news, Sara Lee ( SLE) saw its stock drop 1.3% to $16.99 after the branded foods company forecast weaker-than-expected 2012 sales .

Shares of AOL ( AOL) jumped 12% on news that the company plans to buy back $250 million of stock over the next year.

Earlier on Thursday, the Department of Commerce said the trade deficit unexpectedly expanded to $53.1 billion in June from a revised deficit of $50.08 in May. While economists had forecast a contraction to $48 billion in June, slumping exports widened the gap to the highest level since the fall of 2008.

-- Written by Chao Deng and Melinda Peer in New York.

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