By Meg Richards
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Stocks strode higher in a late-session buying surge Thursday, as oil prices stepped back from their highs and investors shrugged off mixed economic data, focusing with renewed optimism on the government's upcoming jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 120 points.
Trading has been muted all week because of the Republican National Convention in New York and the upcoming Labor Day holiday. Investors were also looking ahead to an after-the-bell outlook from chipmaker Intel Corp. - which came in gloomy, as expected - and U.S. employment data scheduled to be announced today.
The markets grew increasingly more upbeat Thursday as rumors swirled among traders that President Bush would allude to bullish job growth numbers in his speech on the final night of the convention.
According to final results, the Dow soared 121.82, or 1.2 percent, to 10,290.28, its highest point in seven weeks.
The broader gauges also rose sharply. The Nasdaq composite index added 23.02, or 1.2 percent, to 1,873.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12.40, or 1.1 percent, to 1,118.31. The sprint sent the S&P 500 back into positive range for the year, up 0.6 percent since the start of 2004.
The fact that the market was up in spite of so many negative factors was cause for optimism, analysts said, and perhaps a sign that investors are setting aside some of their worries of the summer.
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