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US stocks score sharp gains ahead of January jobs data

US stocks surged Thursday amid optimism that the January jobs market report out early Friday will point to firm economic growth.

NEW YORK: US stocks surged on Thursday amid optimism that the January jobs market report out early Friday will point to firm economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 188.30 points (1.22 percent) at 15,628.53.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 21.79 points (1.24 percent) at 1,773.43, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 45.57 points (1.14 percent) at 4,057.12.

"Investors are a little bit more upbeat today on economic prospects, and have decided to look a little bit more at the bigger picture as far as overall economic strength," said David Levy of Kenjol Capital Management.

Traders were looking ahead to the US Labour Department's monthly jobs report covering January for signs of strength in the economy, with preliminary data on Wednesday and Thursday pointing to reasonably good numbers.

Economists expect the economy to have added 175,000 jobs in January, up from 74,000 in December, and the unemployment rate to hold unchanged at 6.7 percent.

Mace Blicksilver of Marblehead Asset Management said investors were feeling more confident about the upcoming numbers.

"If the job reports comes in stronger, you don't want to be caught too short in case the market takes off."

Going against the market, Twitter shares plunged 24.2 percent after its quarterly report showed disappointingly slow growth in users.

"Twitter has all of a sudden become a show-me story in the same way Facebook was challenged to prove its mobile credentials over a year ago," said Youssef Squali of Cantor Fitzgerald.

Coca-Cola's purchase of 10 percent of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for $1.25 billion, or $74.98 a share, drove Green Mountain shares up 26.2 percent to $102.10.

Yelp, the popular online reviews website, jumped 14.2 percent after reporting a strong income gain in the fourth quarter and a smaller net loss.

Music streaming service Pandora continues to struggle to build income, its quarterly results showed; the shares lost 10.1 percent.

Disney was another strong gainer, adding 5.3 percent after it easily beat forecasts in its fiscal first-quarter report, helped by movie hits "Frozen" and "Thor: The Dark World". Disney turned in a 33 percent rise in net profits to $1.84 billion on a nine percent climb in revenues to $12.3 billion.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.70 percent from 2.67 percent on Wednesday, while the 30-year increased to 3.68 percent from 3.65 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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