A look at highlights from the day's business news.
Stocks drift higher ahead of jobs report
Stocks pushed higher at the end of a listless session Thursday, extending gains from the previous day, as investors prepare for a critical report on the U.S. job market on Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50 points, or 0.5 percent. The S&P 500 gained 9 points, or 0.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite rose 23 points, or 1 percent.
Stocks were supported by better-than-expected sales from major U.S.
retailers and an increase in pending home sales. But the tone was relatively
subdued following a big rally on Wednesday and ahead of the government's
monthly jobs report on Friday.
Oil roars into September
After ending August in a slump, oil prices surged into September, rallying nearly 3 percent Wednesday, and continuing to move higher Thursday after an oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
News that an oil platform owned by Mariner Energy exploded in the Gulf of Mexico helped modestly support prices, which climbed 1.5 percent Thursday, following a 3 percent jump during the previous session.
The platform explosion occurred at least 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay on the Louisiana coast. There were no serious injuries among the platform's 13 rescued crew members.
The event is unlikely to move prices dramatically because the U.S. delivers a small amount of crude oil to the world market, experts said. The United States only provides 5 million barrels of oil a day, whereas global supply is 85 million a day. And of the 5 million barrels the U.S. produces, offshore production only accounts for about a fourth of total U.S. crude oil production.
Treasurys fall on good, but not great, data
Moderately better-than-expected data on jobless claims and pending home sales offered a sliver of hope about the economy Thursday, driving investors out of Treasurys and sending yields higher.
"The news isn't terrible. But it's not great either, especially when you consider that mortgage rates are the lowest in recorded history. We should be seeing more [home] sales with financing so cheap," Mike Larson, real estate and interest rate analyst at Weiss Research said in a report.
Late Thursday, the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose to 2.63 percent, up from 2.58 percent the day before. The 5-year note yielded 1.43 percent and the 30-year bond yielded 3.71 percent.
The 2-year note stemmed the tide of the longer-term notes, with its yield falling to 0.51 percent.
CNNMoney.com reporters Annalyn Censky, Blake Ellis and Ben Rooney contributed to this report.