The Labor Department said first-time jobless benefit claims rose by 13,000 in the week ended Saturday. It was the second weekly increase in 11 weeks. Investors were caught by surprise, however, as the consensus forecast called for a decline of 12,000 in first-time claims.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 181.19 points or 1.41 percent to 12,986.58.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 30.09 points or 1.3 percent to 3,055.55. The Standard and Poor's 500 index climbed 18.86 points or 1.38 percent to 1,387.57.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,505 stocks advanced and 549 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note fell 1/32 with yields rising to 2.059 percent.
The euro rose to $1.3184 from Wednesday's $1.3109. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 80.88 yen from 80.87 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 0.7 percent, 66.05, to 9,524.79.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 1.34 percent, 75.72, to 5,710.46.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]