Authors: Joshua Cohan
(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones industrial average closed 423 points higher Thursday, while the S&P and Nasdaq were up more than 4.6 percent.
U.S. stocks moved sharply higher Thursday after nearly a week of steep losses over debt fears here and in Europe.
Investors reacted positively to a bit of good news among the gloom: New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a four-month low last week, the government reported Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level since the week ended April 2.
Tech giant Cisco turned in an earnings report with better-than-expected sales, sending the shares up 17 percent. CEO John Chambers reported "solid progress" on the networking equipment firm's turnaround effort.
The markets here and abroad were also buoyed by an announcement that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Paris next Tuesday to discuss euro zone governance and other international issues.
Investor worries over French banks have weighed on the stocks over the past two days.
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