Stocks finish higher after strong jobless claims


Stocks finished higher on Thursday as strong economic data and corporate earnings lifted the main benchmarks. The S&P 500

SPX, +0.76%

climbed 17.67 points, or 0.8%, to 2,355.84, with financials and industrials leading the rally. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial Average

DJIA, +0.85%

advanced 174.22 points, or 0.9%, to 20,578.71, led by shares of American Express Co.

AXP, +5.92%

after the credit-card giant reported strong corporate earnings late Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite Index

COMP, +0.92%

rose 53.74 points, or 0.9%, to 5,916.78. Earlier, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans collecting unemployment checks fell to its lowest level in 17 years. Investors will be watching shares of Visa Inc.

V, +1.56%

and Mattel Inc.

MAT, +0.40%

as both firms report earnings after hours.