NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets surged Thursday after investors cheered a possible short-term agreement between Republicans and Democrats to raise the nation's borrowing limit.
The S&P 500 advanced 2.2% to 1,692.56, the benchmark's biggest jump since January 2.
House Speaker John Boehner urged his Republican colleagues to agree to a short-term debt ceiling increase, while White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn't signal that President Obama would reject the plan.
"History has proven time and again that the system is stronger and more resilient than the politicians and we are confident that this again will be the case," J. Wesley Clayton, managing director and founder of HighTower's Twickenham Wealth Advisors in Huntsville, AL commented in an email. "We always take a longer term view of the markets, and the current version of proven political incompetence to solve problems effectively suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Best Buy (BBY) shares soared 7.6% to $39 after Stifel Nicolaus reported that consumer interest in shopping at the electronics retail chain appears to be improving at a steady pace with late September and early October data showing high single digit year-over-year improvements. Separately, the company is reportedly getting ready to launch a trade-in offer that would allow customers to trade in a working smartphone for a $100 gift card that could go toward the purchase of the new Apple AAPL iPhone 5s and 5c smartphones.
Gilead Sciences (GILD) jumped 6.5% to $62.74 after the Foster City, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company said that it was able to stop clinical trials of the experimental idelalisib drug after an independent committee said that there was sufficient data to show that the treatment is effective in preventing the progression of illness in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who are not fit for chemotherapy.
Neflix (NFLX) shares gained 5.4% to $303.99 after Needham analysts initiated coverage of the movie and TV show streaming service with a "buy" explaining that it is the best way to play global broadband growth over the next five years.
Citrix Systems (CTXS) was the worst performer on the S&P 500 after the company cut its third-quarter revenue and earnings per share projections. Shares of the IT services company plunged 11.9% to $58.75
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew set a do-or-die tone early in the day when he appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to warn lawmakers that a failure to reach an agreement would risk the U.S. falling short on payments to public programs such as Social Security and to global creditors.
Lew said the country shouldn't have to be put in a position where it has to pick and choose which principal and interest payments can be fulfilled and which ones must be delayed. "There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets," Lew said.
The nomination of Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as the chief of the Federal Reserve continued to resonate with investors on hopes that her appointment would guarantee a smooth transition at the helm of the central bank and a mild, incremental unwinding of the central bank's massive bond-buying program.
The market has been deprived of key economic data since the government shutdown began 10 days ago. However, Thursday brought the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department. An increase to 374,000 from 308,000 was reported. Economists are expecting an increase to 310,000.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 9/32, raising the yield to 2.695%.
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York
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