While you were sleeping: UPDATED GDP jump pushes up stocks, oil

The Nasdaq closed at a record high for the 21st time this year.

Stocks on Wall Street and US crude oil advanced after a report showed stronger economic growth than previously estimated.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at a 2.1% annualised rate in the fourth quarter, up from the previously reported 1.9% pace.

Separately, the Labor Department reported initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 3000 to a seasonally adjusted 258,000 for the week ended March 25.

The reports came a day after Federal Reserve Bank of Boston president Eric Rosengren said the "base-case" is for four interest rate increases this year, while San Francisco's John Williams said he "would not rule out more than three increases total for this year."

The Fed raised its key rate earlier this month and signalled a total of three hikes in 2017.

"Consumer spending will lead growth thanks to higher incomes from more jobs and rising wages," Gus Faucher, deputy chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, told Reuters.

Nasdaq's 21st record close
At the close of trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 68.17 points, or 0.3%, to 20,728.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.3% to 5914.34 – its 21st record close of the year – and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3% to 2368.06.

The Dow moved higher as advances in shares of Goldman Sachs and those of UnitedHealth Group, up 1.2% each, outweighed declines in shares of Nike and those of Procter & Gamble, down 1.3% and 0.4% respectively.

Bucking the overall trend, shares of Lululemon Athletica sank 23.3% weaker after the Canadian yogawear retailer predicted a decline in first-quarter comparable sales and forecast full-year earnings that fell short of analysts' expectations.

"We see a larger issue brewing," Camilo Lyon, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity who recommends selling the stock, said in a report Thursday, Bloomberg reported. "Pricing, competition and/or fashion alternatives were a strong enough force to drive the consumer away, and thus will make it that much more difficult to recapture her."

Government bonds pulled back, with the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note rising to 2.418% from 2.385% on Wednesday.

Oil above $US50 a barrel
Oil rose, climbing for a third straight day, amid bets major oil producers will agree to extend a deal to curb output.

US crude oil for May delivery rose 1.7% to $US50.35 a barrel, its highest settlement since March 7 and the third consecutive session of gains.

Kuwait oil minister Essam al-Marzouq said his country was among several nations supporting the extension of a deal between the OPEC and other exporters to limit output, Reuters reported, citing state news agency KUNA.

"I see no sign from OPEC and Saudi Arabia that they will not roll over the cut into the second half of the year," Scott Shelton, energy futures broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina, told Reuters. "The market is about to go from supply surplus to deficit on crude."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.5% gain from the previous close. Both Germany's DAX Index and France's CAC40 Index each closed 0.4% higher.

The UK's FTSE 100 Index slipped less than 0.1%.

Shares of Hennes & Mauritz closed 4% lower after the retailer flagged "more aggressive" price cuts to clear inventory over the next three months if needed.

H&M's inventory levels are up 30% year-on-year and profit will be hurt should the retailer have to offer deeper discounts, Michelle Wilson, an analyst at Berenberg, told Bloomberg.

(BusinessDesk)