Stocks are flying higher again.

In afternoon trade on Thursday, the Dow was up 300 points, the S&P 500 was up 34 points, and the Nasdaq was up 91 points.

On a percentage basis, these gains were good for a 1.8% advance in the Dow, a 1.7% advance in the S&P, and a 2% advance in the Nasdaq.

In the commodity space, oil is bouncing back after an ugly close on Wednesday, and on Thursday oil was up 1.5% to north of $US81.75 a barrel.

Gold was falling, with the precious metal down 1.5%, while platinum was down 1.8%.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was leading gains, led by a 4% advance in shares of economic bellwether Caterpillar, which reported better-than-expected results on Thursday morning.

Dow member 3M was also having a huge day, with shares of the conglomerate gaining more than 5% after its earnings report on Thursday morning.

On the economic data front, the initial report on weekly jobless claims showed claims rose slightly from last week but remained near multiyear lows, with the four-week moving average of claims at its lowest level since May 2000.

In the US, Markit’s flash manufacturing PMI came in at 56.2, below expectations for a 57.0 but indicating growth in the US manufacturing sector, though the report’s new business growth measure showed new orders rose the most in nine months.

In stock news, shares of Chiquita Banana were up more than 6% after the company received an increased takeover offer from Cutrale-Safra, while Yelp shares were down as much as 13% after the company on Wednesday night reported earnings that missed expectations.

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