Encouraging retail reports send stocks sharply higher

Good news about hiring and spending at retail businesses helped send U.S. stocks sharply higher Thursday.

For investors, the pair of government reports offered more encouragement that the U.S. economic recovery will continue, even as Europe and Japan struggle. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared 23.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,636.36.

The gains were broad. All 10 industry groups within the S&P 500 rose, led by retailers and other consumer-discretionary companies. Gannet soared 34 percent, the most in the S&P 500, on news that it would buy another media company.

Google expected to outdo rivals in sales of mobile ads

Google will sell more mobile advertising than the rest of its rivals combined for the second straight year, according to a new forecast that highlights the expansion of the Internet search leader’s moneymaking prowess from personal computers to smartphones and tablets.

The report released Thursday by the research firm eMarketer projects Google Inc. will generate nearly $8.9 billion in mobile ad revenue throughout the world this year. The figure reflects the anticipated amount that Google will retain after paying commissions to its ad partners.

The prediction calls for Google to hold a 56 percent share of the overall mobile ad market, which is expected to approach $16 billion this year. In 2012 Google accounted for 52 percent, or $4.6 billion, of the worldwide mobile ad market, according to eMarketer.

Fewer Americans seeking unemployment benefits

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 334,000, a decline that suggests steady job gains will endure.

The less volatile four-week average decreased 7,250 to 345,250, the Labor Department said Thursday. Both figures are roughly 7,000 higher than month-ago levels, which were the lowest in five years.

– From news services