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Improving growth prospects in the world’s second-largest economy, China, and positive developments from the European region drove the markets significantly higher, negating much of week’s losses so far.  Global cues also overshadowed a rise in weekly jobless claims, ensuring benchmarks’ second-straight day of gains. Meanwhile, after investors waited for Google’s results through the trading session, the tech-giant delivered encouraging numbers after the closing bell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) soared 181.19 points or 1.4% to close at 12,986.58. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) also jumped 1.4% and finished yesterday’s trading session at 1,387.57. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index surged 1.3% and climbed up to 3,055.55. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index slumped, losing 14.1% and closed at 17.20. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were 6.14 billion shares, lower than last year's daily average of 7.84 billion. Advancing stocks completely outshined the decliners on the NYSE; as for 80% of the stocks that gained, a mere 17% stocks traded lower. The remaining 3% stocks were left unchanged.

Yesterday’s gains have now pushed benchmarks closer to their key levels. Losses suffered since last week had dragged the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq below their key levels of 13, 000, 1,400 and 3, 000, respectively. While the &P 500 was the first to drop below its key level last Wednesday, dismal nonfarm payroll data released last Friday had dragged the blue-chip index below 13, 000 earlier this week on Monday. A day later, Nasdaq dropped below 3, 000 following reports of surging borrowing costs in Spain and Italy and less-than-expected imports in China However, Nasdaq’s stay below 3, 000 was short-lived and it soon rebounded over that level. The Dow and S&P 500 are yet to catch up with their individual key levels, but they are now shy only by 13.42 and 12.43 points, respectively. Additionally, the S&P 500 is now back over its 50-day moving average.

Incidentally, while concerns from Europe and China had dented the markets over the past few trading sessions, positive developments from the same regions have now helped markets climb higher. Firstly, investors had a lot to cheer about following positive developments in Europe. Luckily yesterday, Italy witnessed a successful bond auction as the nation sold $6.4 billion of government bonds. Spanish bond-yields also showed declining trends and have dropped to 5.8%.

Meanwhile, with the GDP report due late at night, rumors of China’s first-quarter GDP coming in better-than-expected at 9% compared with prior estimates of 8.4%, boosted the benchmarks through the trading session. Strong growth in the world’s second-largest economy is certainly good news for the global financial arena. Therefore, there will surely be a lot to cheer about if the region finally comes out with robust GDP numbers.

Investors also negated dismal domestic labor data, as they remained occupied with global events. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims jumped 13,000 to 380,000, for the week ending April 7, up from previous week's revised figure of 367,000. The jump in initial claims was also significantly higher than consensus estimates of initial claims clocking up a figure of 357, 000.

Coming to sectoral stocks, materials put up a good performance and the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) gained 2.7%. Stocks including E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (NYSE:DD), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX), Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE:NEM), Southern Copper Corp. (NYSE:SCCO) and Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ANR) soared 1.9%, 5.9%, 3.2%, 5.5% and 9.9%, respectively.

Meanwhile, with the earnings season already getting an unofficial kick-start with Alcoa, Inc. (NYSE:AA) reporting encouraging figures on Tuesday, it was Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) results that investors were waiting for and the tech giant did not disappoint. On Friday, financial bellwethers JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) will report their results after the closing bell.

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