NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks ended higher in a volatile trading on Thursday as investors kept an eye on the progress of budget negotiations between the Democratic and Republican parties.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 59.75 points, or 0.45 percent, to 13,311.72. The broad-market S&P 500 Index was up 7.88 points, or 0.55 percent, to 1,443.69. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 6.03 points, or 0.20 percent, to 3,050. 39.
Stocks were dragged down by signs of complications of the U.S. fiscal negotiations between the two political parties. Earlier this week, the optimism on the budget deal pushed the main indexes obviously up.
However, Wall Street gradually bounced back thanks to the encouraging economic data. The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter, beating market estimates.
Meanwhile, U.S. existing home sales soared 5.9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units, the fastest since November 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Also, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's general economic index unexpectedly advanced to 8.1 from minus 10.7 in November. A reading of zero is the dividing line between expansion and contraction in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.
The number of Americans initially applying for jobless benefits increased by 17,000 to 361,000 in the week ended Dec. 15, according to the Labor Department. But the level is consistent with moderate job growth.
Nevertheless, a gauge of future U.S. economic activity fell slightly in November, signaling a slowdown in growth in the near term. The Conference Board said on Thursday its Leading Economic Index slipped 0.2 percent to 95.8 last month.
In the afternoon session, Wall Street rebounded obviously after U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he expects to keep working on a budget plan with President Barack Obama.
In terms of stocks, the NYSE Euronext climbed 34.10 percent, the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, as the owner of the 220- year-old New York Stock Exchange agreed on Thursday to be acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange an upstart commodities and derivatives trading platform, in an 8-billion-U.S. dollar deal.
Accenture, the world's second-largest technology consultancy, slipped 2.4 percent to 68.68 dollars, with its sales from advising clients declining to 3.96 billion dollars, the company said late Wednesday.
And financial stocks rose 1 percent, gaining the most among 10 sectors of the S&P 500.
U.S. crude futures settled higher as economic growth of the world's largest economy escalated in the third quarter. Light, sweet crude for February delivery added 15 cents, or 0.17 percent, to settle at 90.13 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Besides, the U.S. dollar retreated against most of major currencies over the pending fiscal discussion in thin pre-holiday trade.