U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday after the Federal Reserve said it was more upbeat about the economy and Greece looked closer to a bailout deal.
The Fed pledged to keep rates lower for an extended period and was more positive about employment prospects. Greece's borrowing costs eased after an EU official said talks with Greece on an aid package should be completed within days. Jitters over some European sovereign debt has pressured equities in recent weeks.
"The market has been looking for something concrete in terms of Greece, and it looks like we finally have that in place, which is a relief," said Andy Fitzpatrick, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates in Hinsdale, Illinois.
On the earnings front, Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) both fell, with P&G down 3 percent to $61.39, and Exxon off 0.7 percent to $68.74. P&G forecast results below estimates, and Exxon recorded a profit below expectations.
"Those two are certainly market share leaders and important for their industries, but the overwhelming sense of earnings this season has been pretty positive. So I'm not too weighed down on those," Fitzpatrick said.
On the upside, profits from Aetna Inc (AET.N) and Visa Inc (V.N) beat expectations, and Visa also raised its revenue outlook. Aetna rose 2.3 percent to $31.19, while Visa fell 1 percent to $92.72.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) was up 78.59 points, or 0.71 percent, at 11,123.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) rose 11.06 points, or 0.93 percent, at 1,202.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) jumped 18.82 points, or 0.76 percent, at 2,490.55.
Also on Thursday, the government said unemployment claims fell slightly less than expected in the latest week, suggesting a gradual labor market improvement.
On the mergers-and-acquisition front, Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) agreed to buy Palm Inc (PALM.O) for $1.2 billion, while Medtronic Inc (MDT.N) plans to acquire ATS Medical Inc (ATSI.O), a maker of heart valves, for $370 million. Palm surged 24 percent to $5.76, while ATS soared 53 percent at $3.95.