By Lewis Krauskopf
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks in the United States and Europe raced higher on Thursday helped by encouraging corporate reports and a 4 percent surge in oil prices on comments from the Saudi oil minister and a forecast for a tighter crude market.
Major U.S. stock indexes closed at record highs. U.S. labor data showed a drop in jobless claims, and shares of department store operators Macy's <M.N> and Kohls <KSS.N> soared after their quarterly reports.
The energy sector <.SPNY> was the best-performing major S&P group, up 1.3 percent, buoyed by the rise in oil prices.
"Energy is such a common denominator for all economies that the sort of move that we’re seeing there has to be of reassurance," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. "A week or so ago oil seemed to be tumbling again, and now we’ve come back to a level where it seems to be stabilizing."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 117.86 points, or 0.64 percent, to 18,613.52, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 10.3 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,185.79 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 23.81 points, or 0.46 percent, to 5,228.40.
With bond yields low in developed economies as central banks maintain accommodative monetary policies, investors have sought out equities for yield.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 stock index <.FTEU3> climbed 0.9 percent to its highest close since late May helped by results from scents and flavors maker Symrise <SY1G.DE> and consumer group Henkel <HNKG_p.DE>.
MSCI's all-world index <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 0.5 percent to nearly a year high for a fifth session of gains out of the past six.
Oil prices jumped after comments from the Saudi oil minister about possible action to stabilize prices and the International Energy Agency forecast crude markets would tighten in the second half of 2016.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC members and non-members would discuss the market situation, including any action that may be required to stabilize prices, during an informal meeting on Sept. 26-28 in Algeria.
U.S. crude <CLc1> settled at $43.49 per barrel, up $1.78 or 4.3 percent, while Brent crude <LCOc1> closed $1.99, or 4.5 percent, higher at $46.04, after both jumped more than 5 percent during the session.
Comments from a Federal Reserve official that the U.S. central bank should raise interest rates further this year rippled through the currency and bond markets.
The U.S. dollar <.DXY> rose 0.3 percent against a basket of six major currencies after San Francisco Fed President John Williams told the Washington Post that the Fed should raise rates this year because of improved labor market conditions and the likelihood that inflation is heading higher.
Williams is not a voter this year on the Fed's policy-setting panel, but his comments are closely watched because his views are seen as reflecting those of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
U.S. Treasury prices fell, also pressured by the rise in oil, with benchmark 10-year Treasury notes <US10YT=RR> down 20/32 in price to yield 1.569 percent.
(Additional reporting by Karen Brettell, Dion Rabouin and Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)