Wall Street rises for second day
Stocks on Wall Street rose the most in more than a month as traders took an optimistic view of global growth and shrugged off a soft domestic jobs market report.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York president William Dudley also provided a boost after he reiterated that interest rates would likely remain low as it was too soon to say the US economy was out of the woods yet.
A round of data reinforced this view. New applications for jobless benefits last week saw their biggest weekly rise in nearly a year and were higher than expected.
Meanwhile, the trade deficit registered its biggest contraction in nearly three years in February, narrowing more than economists expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 180.51 points, or 1.4%, to 12,985.90 at the close (8am NZ time). The S&P 500 index also jumped 1.4%, to 1387.55. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.3% to 3055.55.
Materials and energy rose the most among the S&P's 10 sectors. Hewlett-Packard rose 7.3% after an upbeat report on personal computer sales.
Other markets: Europe, Asia up
European markets were mostly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 finishing 1.2% higher at 257.36.
This was its second-straight gain amid the encouraging Italian bond auction and better-than-expected eurozone data.
Industrial production rose 0.5% in February, while an Italian bond auction fell slightly short of its €5 billion target.
The UK's FTSE 100 index ended up 1.3% to 5710.46, Germany's DAX index rose 1.0% to 6743.24 and France's CAC-40 index finished 1.0% higher at 3269.79.
Asian stock markets ended mostly higher on Wall Street's Wednesday rebound.
Shares in Sydney gained on an upbeat employment report.
China's Shanghai Composite jumped 1.8% to 2350.86, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.9% to 20327.32, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.8% to 4280.6 and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average added 0.7% to 9524.79.
Commodities: Oil, gold up
Crude-oil futures increased 0.9% to $US103.60 a barrel, while gold futures gained 1.2% to $US1680.60 an ounce.
The US dollar slipped against the euro and the yen.