NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages rose Thursday as shares of technology behemoth Apple ( AAPL) rebounded and investors watched the U.S. "fiscal cliff" debates with a bit more optimism. The technology sector was posting the biggest gains in the broad market as Apple shares rebounded by 1.4%. CEO Tim Cook made various media appearances, telling Bloomberg and NBC that an existing Mac computer will be manufactured in the U.S next year and that the company will spend $100 million in U.S. production in 2013. The stock tumbled 6.4% to $538.79 on Wednesday, its biggest single-day loss in four years on reports Wednesday of a margin hike at one clearing firm and concerns over component supplies falling next year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 40 points, or 0.3%, at 13,074. The blue-chip index began the session up 6.8% in 2012. Breadth was positive, with winners outnumbering losers 20 to eight. The top blue-chip advancers were Intel ( INTC), Cisco ( CSCO), Chevron ( CVX) and McDonald's ( MCD). Sinking to the bottom were AT&T ( T), American Express ( AXP) and Travelers ( TRV). The S&P 500 added 5 points, or 0.33%, to 1,414. The Nasdaq increased 16 points, or 0.52%, at 2,989. The tech-heavy index broke a four-day losing streak. Advancers edged decliners 1.1-to-1 on the Big Board, but losers beat winners incrementally on the Nasdaq. Volumes totaled 3.17 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.70 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Aside from technology, the consumer-cyclical, services and basic materials sectors were also in the green. Sector decliners in the broad market included capital goods, financials and energy. On Wednesday afternoon, Republicans made a move to support a bipartisan call to break the gridlock over the "fiscal cliff" talks, especially regarding tax hikes for the richest Americans. As many as 40 Republicans were reportedly pressing for the exploration of "all options." Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas, and Suvrat Prakash, an interest rate strategist at the firm, said they believe a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff will be made before year-end and that there's a high likelihood the U.S. debt ceiling will be raised.
"The administration has said that the debt ceiling must be raised as part of a fiscal cliff deal," Dwyer and Prakash said. "The Obama administration is pushing for a permanent increase of the debt ceiling, which they are not likely to get. We expect another one-year extension (or roughly $1 trillion) with another increase tied to the next round of fiscal negotiations." The European markets finished Thursday higher, with the FTSE 100 in London closing up 0.16% and the DAX in Germany finishing up 1.07%. The European Central Bank on Thursday kept its benchmark rate unchanged at a record low of 0.75%. At a press conference following the meeting, ECB President Mario Draghi said that the euro area economic outlook continues to face downside risks, and expects economic weakness to persist into next year, amid uncertainties over sovereign debt and governance in the region and fiscal policy decisions in the U.S. However, he said economic activity may pick up gradually later next year on stronger global demand and confidence in the financial markets, and consistent accommodative monetary policy stances. On the U.S. data front Thursday, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 1 fell 25,000 to 370,000, coming in lower than the expected 380,000. The prior week's claims were upwardly revised to 395,000. The four-week claims average rose to 408,000 from 405,750. Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 24 fell by 100,000 to 3.21 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised 3.305 million; economists were expecting 3.275 million. "Initial jobless claims have returned to pre-Sandy levels and the four-week average of claims should trend lower in the weeks ahead," noted John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros, the founders of research firm RDQ Economics. "However, the turn of the year is often a period of greater-than-usual volatility in initial claims due to seasonal adjustment issues and the claims data may reflect more noise and less signal in the coming weeks." "We expect tomorrow's employment report to feature below-trend payroll growth due to disruptions from the storm," they said of Friday's big November nonfarm payrolls report from the government. Global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday that job cuts increased for the third consecutive month in November, as employers announced plans to shed 57,081 workers from their payrolls. Overall, November cuts were 34% higher than the 42,474 job cuts announced by employers the same month last year. The November surge was led by the food industry, with bulk of the cuts resulting from the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands, according to the report. Gold for February delivery rose $8 to settle at $1,701.80 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts fell $1.62 to close at $86.26 a barrel. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was flat at a yield of 1.591%. The dollar was spiking 0.53%, according to the
U.S. dollar index.
In corporate news, Broadcom ( BRCM) lifted its outlook for fourth-quarter revenue on Wednesday to a range of $2 billion to $2.1 billion, from its previous range of $1.95 billion to $2.1 billion. The chipmaker cited better-than-expected results in its wireless division. Shares rose 3.2%. Smithfield Foods ( SFD), a meat producer, posted fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings of 61 cents a share on revenue of $3.23 billion, compared with the average analyst estimate of 44 cents a share on revenue of $3.3 billion. Sales fell short as higher volumes in all segments were more than offset by lower meat and live hog prices. Shares added 0.35%. Lululemon Athletica ( LULU), the athletic apparel maker, predicted a big slowdown in same-store sales growth, estimating a high single-digits increase in the current quarter, compared with growth of 26% the same quarter last year. The company posted Thursday third-quarter profit of 39 cents a share on revenue of $316.5 million versus the consensus forecast of profit of 37 cents a share on revenue of $305.1 million. Shares increased 7.2%. Walter Energy ( WLT) shares tacked on 5.3% after reports said that BHP Billiton ( BHP) is considering an all-cash bid for the U.S. coal producer. Epoch Holding ( EPHC) shares soared 26% after the investment manager said it has agreed to be bought by TD Bank for about $668 million in cash. Zynga ( ZNGA) shares jumped 7.8% as the online game company filed paperwork with the Nevada Gaming Control Board as it tries to enter the "real-money" gambling market. -- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse. Follow @Commodity_Bull