Wall Street edges up on optimism, eyes on Mideast

U.S. stocks piled on a vertiginous two-year advance on Thursday as investors dismissed a rise in jobless claims and consumer prices to focus on positive earnings and regional business activity.

The technology sector showed strength, with Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) up 9.4 percent to $25.58 a day after a bullish revenue forecast.

The S&P 500 hit a 32-month high a day after doubling its value in less than two years, the steepest 100 percent gain since the Great Depression.

U.S. crude futures jumped as civilian unrest in some oil-producing regions kept focus on supply, boosting shares of energy companies. The S&P energy sector (.GSPE) gained 0.9 percent.

Stocks continued to overlook Iran’s intentions to send two navy vessels through the Suez Canal in a move that Israel has called a “provocation” and that is putting Egypt’s new military rulers in an unwelcome diplomatic spotlight.

“Geopolitical issues have been pushed aside, maybe prematurely,” said Brian Lazorishak, a money manager at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“People have been focusing on the positives like the outlook for corporations and a good earnings season,” he said.

Lazorishak added that the uptick in stocks was related more to a lack of sellers than to enthusiastic buying. Dwindling volume could be a reflection of that.

Average daily volume on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq has been 7.5 billion shares in February, sharply below the 8.5 billion shares traded daily on average over the same month last year.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) added 29.14 points, or 0.24 percent, at 12,317.31. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX) gained 3.67 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,339.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) rose 5.52 points, or 0.20 percent, at 2,831.08.