NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Stocks rallied Wednesday, with investors snapping up techs and other shares in light, pre-Thanksgiving trade.
The Nasdaq composite (up 18.26 to 2,102.54, Charts) gained 0.9 percent.
The Standard & Poor's 500 (up 4.82 to 1,181.76, Charts) index gained around 0.4 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average (up 27.71 to 10,520.31, Charts) rose 0.25 percent.
A tech rally picked up some steam in the last hour of trading, supported by light volume, which can exacerbate moves one way or the other. This gave a lift to the broader market, which had struggled earlier in the session.
The session's tech-fueled rally was not likely anything fundamental so much as rotational, said Tim Heekin, head of stock trading at Thomas Weisel Partners.
"There's been this rotation lately, with people selling energy and some other sectors as the price of oil falls, and buying technology," he added.
Investors seemed to take in stride the morning's mostly upbeat economic news, including improved reads on weekly jobless claims and new home sales, and weaker-than-expected reads on durable goods orders and consumer sentiment.
Stock and bond markets are closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Bond markets remain closed Friday, while stock markets will open for a shortened session, ending at 1 p.m. ET.
Many Wall Street professionals have already ducked out early, ahead of Thanksgiving and are likely to make a long weekend of it, skipping Friday, too.
"It's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there's no one here, desks are half-staffed," Heekin added. "There are going to be even less people around Friday."
Google (up $7.24 to $174.76, Research) popped more than 4.3 percent after brokerage Goldman Sachs set a $215 price target on the stock, which closed Tuesday at $167.52.
Yahoo! (up $1.21 to $37.61, Research) and other Internet shares gained, lifting the Goldman Sachs Internet (Charts) index by 2.2 percent.
Tech Data (up $2.34 to $45.25, Research), which distributes computer products, rose 5.5 percent after reporting third-quarter earnings that rose from a year earlier and beat estimates. The company also forecast fourth-quarter sales and said earnings would top estimates.
Chip stocks were higher, rising the day after an Advanced Micro Devices (up $0.18 to $21.57, Research) executive said computer chip sales have been recovering since the uncertainty about the presidential election has passed.
Apple Computer continued its recent rally.
Dow gainers included McDonald's (up $0.30 to $30.40, Research) and General Motors (up $0.83 to $39.56, Research).
Connetics (down $4.63 to $21.72, Research), a drugmaker, tumbled 15 percent in active Nasdaq trade on news that U.S. health officials have determined that its treatment for seborrheic dermatitis -- a skin ailment -- is not effective.
General Electric (down $0.17 to $35.64, Research) said it would buy Ionics (up $13.53 to $43.28, Research) for about $1.1 billion plus the assumption of debt. Ionics designs and operates water-purification systems. Ionics shares rallied 45 percent, while GE was little changed.
Market breadth was positive and volume light. On the New York Stock Exchange, advancers beat decliners by 3 to 1 on volume of 1.14 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, winners topped losers by 3 to 2 as 1.65 billion shares changed hands.
Home sales up
The pace of new home sales grew at a 1.226 million unit annual rate in October from an upwardly revised 1.224 million unit annual rate in September. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com thought sales would fall to a 1.200 million unit annual rate.
Approximately 323,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department said in a report released before the start of trading. That was down from 335,000 the previous week. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com thought claims would hold steady.
Orders for durable goods fell 0.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department said, versus expectations for goods to rise 0.5 percent. In September, goods rose an upwardly revised 0.9 percent.
The University of Michigan's revised reading on consumer sentiment was 92.8, up from a reading of 91.7 in October, according to Reuters. That was lower than the initial reading and short of expectations.
U.S. light crude oil for January delivery rose 50 cents to settle at $49.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, bouncing off earlier lows.
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In the morning, crude had fallen more than a dollar after the weekly supply report showed the first increase in stockpiles of distillates, used for heating, in 10 weeks.
Treasury prices fell in a pre-holiday shortened session, with the yield on the 10-year note rising to 4.20 percent, up from 4.18 percent late Tuesday. Treasury prices and yields move in the opposite direction.
The dollar touched another all-time low versus the euro, and also fell to a fresh 4-1/2 year low versus the yen.
COMEX gold rose $1.40 to $449.30 an ounce.