Stocks in the United States rallied on Thursday to close at their highest for 2009. Trading volume was light before Wall Street closed early on Christmas Eve.
Data showed initial jobless claims fell more than forecast last week to the lowest tally since September 2008.
A separate report showed durable goods orders, excluding transportation, rose 2%, beating expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53.66 points, or 0.51%, to end at 10,520.10.
Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 5.89 points, or 0.53%, to finish at 1,126.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 16.05 points, or 0.71%, to close at 2,285.69.
It was their fifth consecutive day of gains and the highest close for 14 months.
The Dow is up 19.9% for 2009 and the Nasdaq is up an by 45% for 2009.
Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange, with only 319.3 million shares changing hands.
Earlier in Europe: the FTSE 100 in London ended 30.03 points or 0.6% higher at 5,402.41.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.1% higher at 1,038.56 points.
The index is up about 25% to date for 2009.
The German stock market was closed for a public holiday. On Wednesday, the DAX index in Frankfurt ended at 5,957.44 points, up 11.75 or 0.2%.
The CAC-40 index in Paris closed at 3,912.73 points, up 1.98 or 0.05%. However, in Zurich, the Swiss market index closed at 6,579.98 points, down 2.92 or 0.04%.
In Australia, stocks rose for a third day to a two-month high. The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 1.1% at 4,790.9 - its highest close since 26 October.