By Noel Randewich
"Technology once again is leading the way here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
The top-performing sector this year, the S&P 500 information technology index <. SPLRCT> had fallen nearly 3 percent since Nov. 28, with some investors eyeing high earnings multiples.
Strong earnings and expectations of corporate tax cuts promised by President Donald Trump have pushed stocks up to record levels this year.
The Senate Republicans on Wednesday agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on the tax bill amid early signs that lawmakers could agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline.
"It's really going to be the last minute before you really know what's in that tax bill, but something will pass," said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.
Also on investors' radar, Trump and Congress face a deadline on Friday night to pass fresh spending legislation. If they cannot agree on the terms, parts of the federal government could shut down.
At 2:31 pm ET (1931 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <. DJI> was up 0.27 percent at 24,205.59 while the S&P 500 <. SPX> had gained 0.24 percent to 2,635.63.
The Nasdaq Composite <.
IXIC> added 0.39 percent to 6,803.12.
Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with industrial <. SPLRCI> and technology sectors <. SPLRCT> leading the gainers.
The S&P 500 consumer staples index <. SPLRCS> fell 0.78 percent, hurt by drops of at least 1.2 percent in Procter & Gamble
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a rapid tightening of the labour market.
The report comes ahead of more comprehensive government payrolls data on Friday that would be used by investors to gauge the strength of the labour market at a time when the Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise U. S. interest rates next week.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.59-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)