* Initial jobless claims fall more than expected
* All 10 S&P 500 sectors higher; banks among leaders
* Pioneer Natural Resources jumps after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 1.2 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday,
pushing the S&P 500 above 1,700 for the first time, as data
suggested the economy is still improving and as the Federal
Reserve kept its stimulus plan in place.
Stocks were broadly higher, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors in
the black, though growth-sensitive financials, industrials and
consumer discretionary shares registered the biggest gains.
JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells
Fargo were among the companies giving the greatest boost
to the S&P 500. Shares of JPMorgan gained 1.6 percent to $56.61,
Bank of America rose 2.3 percent to $14.94 and Wells Fargo added
1.7 percent to $44.24. The S&P 500 financial index was
up 1.7 percent.
Data on weekly U.S. initial jobless claims and national
manufacturing came in better than expected, while construction
spending dropped 0.6 percent in June, below forecasts calling
for a 0.4 percent rise.
They were the latest in a data-filled week. The drop in
initial claims, coupled with Wednesday's better-than-expected
ADP employment report, bodes well for July payrolls data on
The benchmark S&P rose to a new intraday high of 1,706.52,
surpassing 1,700 early in the session after coming close but
failing to break above that level on Wednesday.
"It keeps going higher in the face of skepticism," said
Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset
Management in Boston. "In my view, that is one of the positive
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 133.94
points, or 0.86 percent, at 15,633.48. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was up 19.98 points, or 1.19 percent, at 1,705.71.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 44.49 points, or 1.23
percent, at 3,670.86.
In its latest policy statement on Wednesday, the Federal
Reserve gave no hint that a reduction in the pace of its
bond-buying program was imminent, as the economy continues to
recover but is still in need of support.
Global central banks on Thursday also remained
accommodative, with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
reiterating the ECB's rates will remain at their present level
or lower for an "extended period."
Yelp Inc surged 25.6 percent to $52.51 after the
consumer reviews website posted a smaller-than-expected
quarterly loss and forecast third-quarter revenue above
Pioneer Natural Resources was the S&P 500's biggest
percentage gainer after reporting second-quarter results. The
company's shares jumped 13.5 percent to $175.65, after hitting
an all-time high of $180.99 earlier in the session.
On the downside, Exxon Mobil Corp dipped 1.4 percent
to $92.45, the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500, after
reporting a sharp drop in quarterly profit on lower oil and gas
output production and weaker earnings from its refining