NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks rose for the second consecutive day Thursday, boosted by a pair of encouraging U.S. data. But oil prices pulled back on eased worries over Syria.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 16.44 points, or 0.11 percent, to 14,840.95 points. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index rose 3.21 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,638.17 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 26.95 points, or 0.75 percent, to 3, 620.30 points.
The real gross domestic product of the United States increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter this year, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday. It beat market expectations and is a welcome acceleration from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent released last month.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits decreased 6,000 to 331,000 in the week ending Aug. 24 from an upwardly-revised figure of 337,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Investors view the pair of positive data as a stronger recovery of the U.S. economy and believe continued improvement in the labor market may propel the U.S. Federal Reserve to scale back its massive monetary stimulus later this year.
"If the Fed pulls back in September, that's a good thing. Because the economy is getting better. If the economy doesn't get better, the Fed is going to put more money into the economy, and QE (quantitative easing) tapering won't happen. So that's a good thing because more money is flooding the market," David Williams, director at Strategic Gold Corporation, told Xinhua Thursday.
Moreover, no attack against Syria has materialized despite earlier media reports saying the United States could hit Syria as early as Thursday. With the geopolitical tension abating, the U.S. stock market stabilized to a certain extent.
"If there is war (in Syria), it's a bad news. But I think the probability of the war is getting smaller, so it's a good news for the market," he added.
Williams said he is optimistic with the stock market generally and believed the market would move higher to the end of this year from now.
In corporate news, shares of Verizon Communications ticked up 2. 71 percent to 47.82 U.S. dollars after Vodafone, a British telecommunications company, said Thursday that it is in discussions with the U.S. telecom company to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless. If implemented, it would be one of the largest deals in the world ever.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, increased 1.94 percent to end at 16.81.
In other markets, oil prices retreated after a two-day winning streak Thursday on weakened concerns about Syria and rising market speculations of Fed's stimulus tapering.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell 1.30 dollars to settle at 108.80 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for October delivery lost 1.45 dollars to close at 115.16 dollars a barrel.
Gold future for December delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell for two days in a line, dropping 5.9 dollars to settle at 1,412.9 dollars per ounce Thursday.
Despite the losses, Williams still predicted that the gold futures will go up and maybe reach 1,500 dollars per ounce by the end of this year.
The U.S. dollar rallied against major currencies Thursday, as encouraging U.S. growth data boosted speculation that the Fed would soon start to taper monetary easing measures.
In late New York trading, the euro slipped to 1.3244 dollars from 1.3339 dollars of the previous session, and the dollar bought 98.26 Japanese yen, higher than 97.69 yen of the previous session.