* ECB cuts rates to support flagging euro zone economy
* U.S. jobless claims fall to five-year low
* PHLX semiconductor index hits 2-yr high
* Indexes up: Dow 0.8 pct; S&P 0.9 pct; Nasdaq 1.3 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 2 U.S. stocks rose on Thursday,
with the S&P at a fresh intraday high, after strong job market
data and on hopes the first rate cut by the European Central
Bank in 10 months will help shore up the euro zone economy.
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless
benefits fell sharply last week to a five-year low. That follows
a recent string of underwhelming data, including a slow rate of
growth in factory activity in the United States and China.
In an effort to boost the recession-hit euro zone economy,
the ECB cut interest rates for the first time in 10 months and
held out the possibility of further action.
The ECB move follows Wednesday's Federal Reserve statement
in which the U.S. central bank said it will continue its bond
buying scheme to keep interest rates low and spur growth, and
added it would step up purchases if needed.
Market participants shifted focus this week to macroeconomic
news as some of the biggest U.S. companies have already reported
earnings, according to Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard
Capital Markets in New York.
"Three-fourths of the macro concerns this week have been
positive. Factory activity was not anything to write home about,
but the Fed, the ECB and now jobless claims were good," he said.
"With a macro focus, the market seems to not be finding any
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 110.78 points
or 0.75 percent, to 14,811.73, the S&P 500 gained 14
points or 0.88 percent, to 1,596.7 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 42.13 points or 1.28 percent, to 3,341.26.
The S&P fell almost 1 percent Wednesday in its largest drop
in two weeks. The benchmark earlier hit its highest intraday
level ever at 1,597.86 and is up nearly 12 percent so far this
Visa hit a record high of $179.66, a day after the
world's largest credit and debit card network reported strong
quarterly results and rising growth in the key U.S. market.
Shares were last up 6.3 percent to $176.45.
In a boost to the technology sector, the PHLX semiconductor
index rose 0.9 percent after earlier hitting its highest
level in two years.
General Motors rose 4.1 percent to $31.43 after
reporting a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit as its North
American business improved and its loss in Europe was smaller
than Wall Street estimated.
Gilead Sciences shares jumped 5.6 percent to $52.96
after its combination hepatitis C pill proved effective in a
Shares of Facebook Inc jumped 4.6 percent to $28.69
after the social network said late Wednesday its mobile
advertising revenue growth gained momentum in the first three