Stocks shrugging off uncertainty over rates, China

Last Updated Sep 10, 2015 4:21 PM EDT

U.S. stocks advanced Thursday as investors weighed economic data that shows strength in the labor market and the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve since 2006.

One analyst chalked up the recent market volatility to uncertainty over the Fed's plans and the state of the world's second-largest economy.

The Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's rate-setting panel, will issue its next policy statement on Sept. 17, with opinions divided on whether it will finally pull the trigger.

"What is the Fed going to do next week -- you can flip a coin, or you can ask five economists and get 20 different opinions," said Paul Nolte, senior vice president and portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. "And, what is really going on with the global economy, with the subtext being China. China is always fibbing, we're just not sure by how much."

After a triple-digit rise, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) added 77 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,330, with Apple (AAPL) leading gains that included 23 of its 30 components.

The consumer technology company gained 2.2 percent, a day after debuting new products, including a bigger iPad tablet and an upgraded iPhone.

Walmart (WMT) paced blue-chip losses, losing 1.5 percent, after the giant retailer said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it had uncovered a "material weakness" in its controls over accounting for leases.

The S&P 500 (SPX) added 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,952, with technology leading gains among its 10 major industry group, with all but all of one -- utilities -- advancing. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) gained 40 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,796.

The Labor Department released data Thursday showing Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits last week declined by 6,000 to 275,000. The report comes a day after another report had job openings jumping to a record in July.

Traders generally believe the Fed will increase borrowing costs before the end of the year. Billionaire investor David Tepper told CNBC that concerns about corporate earnings leave him less bullish on equities in the short term, saying it's a good time to take some cash off the table.