NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were modestly higher by mid-afternoon Thursday, slightly extending a rally a day earlier that saw the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average score their biggest gains in more than a month.
The S&P 500 was up 0.28% on Thursday, the Dow climbed 0.34%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.17%.
Crude oil gave back some its gains achieved over a Wednesday rally after the International Energy Agency's latest forecasts still show a growing glut. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.1% to $60.77 a barrel.
The body predicts that demand for crude from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, around a third of the world's supply, will average 30.2 million barrels per day through 2015. The cartel is expected to pump 31.3 million barrels per day.
"The news of oversupply is weighing more heavily on the mind of traders than that of heightened demand, especially given the present disparity between the two," said Austin Sapp, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric.
Citrix Systems (CTXS) jumped more than 6% after activist investor Elliott Management said it could help the company increase its share price by around 50%. Among its suggestions, Elliott urged the board to parcel off its underperforming businesses and buy back shares.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO and majority shareholder of 21st Century Fox (FOXA), is reportedly stepping down from his role to make way for his son James, according to CNBC. An announcement is expected in the near term. Shares erased earlier gains and fell nearly 1%.
The International Monetary Fund's technical team returned to Washington from Brussels as negotiations over Greece's future in the eurozone showed no progress. Discussions to secure Greece further debt relief in exchange for economic reforms will continue at a political level, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday. Greece has until June 30 to repay its debt obligations to the IMF.
U.S. retail sales rose 1.2% in May, according to the Department of Commerce, proof consumers were beginning to loosen the purse strings after months of conservative spending.
Sales in April and March were also upwardly revised, a promising sign after a dismal first quarter. Excluding volatile items such as automobiles and food, retail sales increased 0.7%.
"These data confirm unequivocally that the earlier weakness in spending was a temporary weather-related blip," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. strategist at Capital Economics. "The [Federal Reserve] will probably still wait until September to begin raising interest rates, but the odds of a July hike just went up."
Weekly jobless claims increased 2,000 to 279,000 for the week ended June 6. Economists expected the number of people applying for unemployment benefits to have increased to 220,000. Claims remained near 15-year lows.
Inventories at U.S. business increased 0.4% in April, double what economists had expected. Business sales gained 0.6%, continuing momentum seen in March.
Stocks posted their biggest gains in more than a month on Wednesday. Investors piled into equities as crude oil secured a close above $61 a barrel and Greece's future brightened. The Dow recovered its 18,000 level. Click here for more.
Lululemon (LULU) fell more than 1% after founder Chip Wilson and his family said they are selling their entire stake in the company. The move will put 20.1 million shares, or 14% of shares outstanding, back onto the market. Click here for more.
Krispy Kreme (KKD) jumped 10.9% after beating first-quarter earnings estimates. The doughnut chain earned 24 cents a share, 2 cents higher than forecast, while sales increased 9%. Click here for more.
Box (BOX) surged after reporting a first-quarter loss of 28 cents a share, 3 cents narrower than expected. Revenue of $65.62 million surged nearly 45% from a year earlier. The company, which went public earlier this year, also provided stronger-than-expected guidance. Click here for more.
Nike (NKE) jumped more than 1% after sealing a merchandising and marketing deal with the NBA over the eight years. The partnership will begin in the 2017-18 season.