(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stocks moved sharply higher Thursday after nearly a week of steep losses over debt fears here and in Europe.
At 1:25 p.m. Thursday, the Dow rose 352 points, or 3.2 percent, to 11,072.
Investors reacted positively to a bit of good news among the gloom: New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a four-month low last week, the government reported Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level since the week ended April 2.
The markets here and abroad were also buoyed by an announcement that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Paris next Tuesday to discuss euro zone governance and other international issues.
Investor worries over French banks have weighed on the stocks over the past two days.
U.S. stocks skidded Wednesday on new worries about government debt in Europe, losing all of Tuesday's rally and then some. Gold, which surged to yet another new high Wednesday, fell back $25 to $1,758 an ounce Thursday.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio