Stock markets rallied on Thursday as positive economic data on jobs and housing outweighed concerns about the European economy. The Dow Jones industrial average finished within sight of 13,000 points to close at its highest point since the 2008 financial crisis.
The blue-chip index rose 46.24 points, or 0.4%, to 12,984.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.8 points, or 0.43%, to 1,363.46. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 23.81 points, or 0.8%, to 2,956.98.
"The economic data coming out has had a decidedly positive spin to it," said Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James. "Even employment numbers are turning. Housing is getting better. If you’re sitting on too much cash, the market is running away from you."
The U.S. labor market showed unexpected strength as the number of people making new claims for unemployment benefits remained at the lowest level since March 2008 for the second straight week. A report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed an average increase in home prices nationwide of 0.7%, surpassing estimates by analysts polled by Bloomberg.