House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would push for a vote Thursday on a plan that preserves current income tax rates on all income up to $1 million. Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
First time jobless claims for the week ended Saturday rose 17,000 to 361,000.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 59.75 or 0.5 percent to 13,311.72.
The Nasdaq was up 6.02 points or 0.2 percent to 3,050.39.
The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 7.88 points or 0.6 percent to 1,443.69.
There were 2,068 advancers and 963 decliners on the New York Stock Exchange on a composite volume of more than 3.65 billion.
The 10-year treasury note was up 1/32 to yield 1.802 percent.
Against the yen, the dollar was was at 84.34 from Wednesday's 84.39. The euro was unchanged from Wednesday at $1.3244.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei lost 121 points, or 1.19 percent, closing at 10.039. The London FTSE fell 0.05 percent to 5,958.34 while the German DAX rose 0.03 percent to 7,670.71.