NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks gained ground Thursday with the S&P 500 finishing above 1400 for the first time since June 2008.

The Dow closed up 58.7 points, or 0.4%, at 13,253. The blue-chip index finished higher for the seventh straight session. The S&P 500 finished up 8.3 points, or 0.6%, at 1403, crossing 1400 the first time since June 6, 2008.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 15.6 points, or 0.5%, at 3056. Shares of Apple ( AAPL), briefly topped $600 but closed lower after Deutsche Bank reportedly removed the stock from its short-term buy list.

Breadth among the blue chips was positive as 20 of the Dow's 30 components moved higher, led by Bank of America ( BAC), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), and General Electric ( GE).

Cisco Systems ( symbol), Chevron ( CVX) and Home Depot ( HD) were all lower on the day.

More evidence of jobs market improvement was seen in the Labor Department's weekly read on initial jobless claims, which continued to hover near a four-year low. Jobless claims for the week ended March 10 fell 14,000 to 351,000. Economists expected 356,000, according to estimates by Thomson Reuters. The four-week moving average was unchanged.

In other economic data, the Empire State Manufacturing Index for March came in at 20.21, above the forecast for 17.50. February saw a reading of 19.53. Employment and inventory improvement helped the headline figure higher but on the downside, the report said the pricing pressures remain.

The Labor Department this morning also suggested that inflation may have ticked up temporarily due to rising gas prices. "The fact that Treasury Inflation Protected Securities continue to outperform nominal Treasuries means inflation premiums are coming back," says Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist at Pension Partners.

The producer price index for February rose 0.4% in February, about in line with expectations for a 0.5% rise, after a 0.1% gain in the prior month. Excluding food and gas costs, the core reading rose 0.2% as expected after a 0.4% gain in January.

The consumer price index (CPI), to be released Friday, should give investors a better idea of how the inflation picture is shaping up. "If the CPI comes out a little hot, it might reduce the probability of quantitative easing 3 by the Fed, and in turn would justify the spike up in yields in bonds," Gayed said.

There's "a lot of data but not too much excitement," adds David Ader, market strategist with CRT Capital Group. "Claims were close to expectations with upward revision and continue to portray a better labor picture. The manufacturing report was stronger ... with underlying concerns like the drop in new orders, shipments, prices received so its more balanced then the headline gain suggests ... The producer price index is not one we pay a lot of heed to but we do note that the pipeline measures were friendly."

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that its index on regional manufacturing activity came in at a level of 12.5 in March after 10.2 in the prior month. The latest read was the highest since April 2011.

In Wednesday's session, buying momentum faded with the Dow and Nasdaq eking out fractional gains while the S&P 500 broke a five-day win streak. Stocks got a lift from gains in the financial sector following the Federal Reserve's "stress tests" of big U.S. banks.

On Thursday, Germany's DAX closed up 0.8% while London's FTSE finished down 0.2%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up 0.21% while the Nikkei Average in Japan gained 0.72% overnight.

April oil futures closed lower by 32 cents to $105.11. In other commodities, April gold futures were down 70 cents to $1,658.80.

The dollar index was 0.4% lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 2/32, pushing the yield to 2.28%.

In corporate news, Cisco agreed to acquire NDS, a developer of software for multichannel television networks, for $5 billion. NDS, which operates a large development center in Jerusalem, is 51%-owned by buyout firm Permira and 49% by News Corp. ( NWSA). Cisco was down 1.4% to $19.91.

Guess? ( GES), the fashion apparel and accessories company, reported fourth-quarter revenue below analysts' expectations and provided a weak outlook. Guess? posted fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $95.9 million, or $1.05 a share, on revenue of $775.8 million. It earned $103.3 million, or $1.11 a share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting profit of $1.05 a share in the quarter on revenue of $778 million. Shares plunged 10.2% to $32.97.

Communications solutions provider Avaya will buy video conferencing and visual communications provider Radvision ( RVSN) for $11.85 a share in cash, putting the value of the deal at about $230 million. The price represents a premium of about 57% over Radvision's average closing share price during the 90 trading days ended Wednesday. Radvision shares popped 4.5% to $11.70.

Capital One ( COF) said it would sell $1.25 billion worth of stock in a secondary offering. The bank plans to use the proceeds of the sale to fund part of its purchase of HSBC's U.S. credit card business, a deal that received regulatory approval last week. Shares were up 2.5% to $53.63.

Google ( GOOG) will begin undergoing a major, long-term overhaul of its search-engine over the next few months to improve the quality of its search queries functions, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shares were up 0.8% at $621.13.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Chao Deng in New York.

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