Shares of retailers and other consumer-services companies rose as trade-dispute fears faded and economic data came in generally strong.
Initial jobless claims were up 4,000 to 215,000 in the week ended Aug. 24, the Labor Department reported Thursday. "Layoff activity in the US labor market remains muted despite elevated trade tensions and slowing growth," said economists at brokerage Nomura Securities, in a note to clients.
One weak spot in the economy appears to be the housing market, a concern underscored by the 2.5% retreat in pending home sales reported by the National Association of Realtors for July.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris International and Altria continued to lose ground, as investors viewed their plans to merge operations and shift their focus to tobacco alternatives with skepticism. Part of Altria's efforts to build a presence in e-cigarettes was the Marlboro maker's investment in startup Juul Labs, whose devices are popular with young people.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported Federal Trade Commission is investigating Juul's marketing practices, as the U.S. government faces pressure to address the spread of vaping among teens.
Shares of deep discounters rose after reporting earnings. Dollar-store chains Dollar General and Dollar Tree posted second-quarter sales growth and said they were addressing the cost of new tariffs on Chinese goods.
Pernod Ricard extended its bet on whiskey with a deal to acquire the New York-based maker of Jefferson's bourbon and plans to open its first distillery in China.
Write to Rob Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org