NEW YORK - US stocks jumped on Thursday as solid results from Cisco and mildly encouraging US jobs data gave investors an excuse to scoop up shares beaten down in several days of sharp selling.
Labor Department data showed new US claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a four-month low last week, a dose of good news for an economy battered by a credit-rating downgrade and a spate of soft economic data in recent weeks.
"Had we seen a jump (in claims), it would have reinforced recession fears. What we've seen here is not anything to allay those fears, but just to set them aside temporarily," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president of BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Volatility was high during the session and the market remained vulnerable to violent swings in either direction a day after each of the major US stock indexes slid more than 4 percent on fears about the French banking system's health.