NEW YORK — Stocks rebounded dramatically today as investors cheered a better-than-expected report on jobless claims in another round of volatile trading that continued a week-long pattern of wild swings between gains and losses.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed up about 3.9 percent, to about 11,142. The Standard & Poor’s 500, a broader market measure, moved up about 4.6 percent to 1,172, while the Nasdaq, a more tech-heavy index, was up about 4.7 percent to 2,493.

As stocks rose, safe bets such as gold and Treasurys finally saw a pull-back. Gold futures fell about $24 from their previous record close of $1,782 per ounce, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury inched higher to about 2.2 percent. A lower yield means investors are willing to accept a smaller return in exchange for the safety of holding government debt, while a higher yield indicates they are willing to take riskier bets such as stocks.

The positive start came on the back of fresh data from the Labor Department showing that 395,000 people filed for initial unemployment claims last week, 10,000 fewer than economists had expected. It was the first time the figure had fallen below 400,000 since April and represented a positive sign for the economy, since filings above that threshold typically indicate an economy losing steam.

“Labor markets are stabilizing, but at this stage of the game you worry about the fear in the financial markets becoming a full-fledged panic,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago. If that happens, Swonk said, consumer confidence could dip even further and perhaps push the economy into recession.

“We’re still in a pretty precarious situation,” she said.

An upbeat earnings report from Cisco Systems also gave the markets a lift. The technology firm’s smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly profits helped boost its stock by 16.3 percent to $15.97 per share. Bank of America, News Corp. and General Electric were the day’s other biggest gainers.

Both U.S. and European markets declined by more than 4 percent on Wednesday, with investors dumping financial stocks in particular amid signs that the debt crisis on the periphery of Europe is rapidly becoming a banking crisis at its core.

In Europe, trepidation about the health of Europe’s financial firms subsided Thursday as bank stocks picked up along with a broader market recovery. London’s FTSE 100 index and Germany’s DAX were both up more than 3 percent when markets closed today. France’s CAC was just a step behind with a 2.9 percent gain for the day.

In Asia, markets opened with huge losses today, wiping out the modest gains of Wednesday’s trading session, but they closed with a modest recovery.

Markets also shrugged off news of a widening U.S. trade deficit, which rose $2.3 billion in June to $53.1 billion as exports fell, the Department of Commerce reported. That was bad news for the economy, Swonk said, since lower exports translate to less demand for U.S. businesses’ goods and services.

After holding steady in this morning trading, oil futures crept up in the afternoon to $85.54 per barrel.