Wall Street jumps; Nasdaq near 12-year high
Data showing stronger international trade in China and Germany and a report indicating the U.S. trade deficit had narrowed in December, pointed to improving global demand.
"That may have sent a ray of optimism," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Ore.
The technology sector led the day's gains, with the S&P 500 technology index up 1 percent. Gains in LinkedIn Corp. and AOL Inc. following their quarterly results helped the sector.
The benchmark S&P 500, up more than 6 percent for the year, is on track for six straight weeks of gains for the first time since August 2012.
But an advance has been tougher in recent days as investors await strong trading incentives to drive the index further upward.
"I think we're in the middle of a trading range, and I'd put plus or minus 5 percent around it. Fundamental factors are best described as neutral," Dickson said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 40.94 points, or 0.29 percent, at 13,984.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.72 points, or 0.51 percent, at 1,517.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 27.94 points, or 0.88 percent, at 3,193.08.
The Nasdaq was just 3 points shy of its highest level since November 2000.
Shares of LinkedIn jumped 21.1 percent to $150.31 after announcing quarterly profits and giving a bullish forecast for the year.
AOL Inc. shares rose 7.5 percent to $33.77 after the online company reported higher quarterly profit, boosted by a 13 percent rise in advertising sales.
The CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, was down 4.2 percent at 12.94. The gauge, a key measure of market expectations of short-term volatility, generally moves inversely to the S&P 500.
Data showed Chinese exports grew more than expected in January.
, while imports climbed 28.8 percent, highlighting robust domestic demand, while German data showed a 2012 surplus that was the nation's second highest in more than 60 years, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest economy.
Separately, U.S. economic data showed the trade deficit shrank in December to $38.5 billion, its narrowest in nearly three years, indicating the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.