Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, surged to its highest value since December on Thursday after a Wells Fargo Securities analyst said it had taken advantage of recent mobile data moves at AT Inc. and struggles at T-Mobile USA to gain subscribers.
Sprint rose 17 cents, or 7 percent, to close at $2.60, its highest value since Dec. 6.
Although Overland Park-based Sprint is still expected to lose subscribers in the seasonally weak first quarter, the carrier is attracting users from AT and T-Mobile, Jennifer Fritzsche, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a note Thursday. Subscribers like Sprint’s unlimited data plans — which no other major U.S. carrier offers — and its selection of handsets, including the Apple iPhone, which T-Mobile USA lacks, she said.
The overall stock market also posted substantial gains Thursday as Greece closed in on a deal to restructure its debt and avoid a default. That overshadowed a small increase in unemployment claims last week.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 70.61 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,907.94. Two days of solid gains have erased about three-quarters of the losses from Tuesday, when the Dow fell 203 points, its biggest loss of the year.
The S 500 added 13.28 points, or 1 percent, to 1,365.91. It has gained 22.80 points since Tuesday, its best two days since December. All 10 industry groups rose, led by materials companies.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 34.73 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,970.42. The BATS 1000 rose 159.06 points, or 1.04 percent, to close at 15,489.31.
A Greek government official told The Associated Press that more than 75 percent of investors in Greek bonds had agreed to exchange them for bonds with a lower face value and interest rate.
Greece needs 90 percent of investors to participate to get a bailout of about $173 billion and avoid a default this month that could rattle financial markets around the world. The Athens government will release final results Friday.
The rally came despite a report from the U.S. Labor Department that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week. The four-week average remained near a four-year low.
The government reports Friday on how many jobs the U.S. economy added in February and the unemployment rate. Economists expect 200,000 jobs were added. If the unemployment rate falls from 8.3 percent, it would be the sixth straight decline.
“The trend here is that the job market has continued to grind higher, and I don't see any reason why tomorrow's number shouldn't be a good one,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.
He pointed to a private estimate of hiring released Wednesday that exceeded expectations, along with the unemployment claims figures, as good indicators for more positive news.
Among other stocks making big moves Tuesday:
• Coach Inc. jumped 4.6 percent after the luxury accessories maker said it is sticking to its long-term sales goals.
• McDonald's Corp. lost more than 3 percent after reporting slower growth in February.
• American International Group Inc. fell 1.1 percent after the U.S. government said it would sell $6 billion of the common stock it holds in the bailed-out insurer.
Here’s a scorecard on Kansas City area stocks:
Capitol Federal Financial fell 10 cents, or 0.85 percent, to close at $11.72.
Cerner Corp. rose 53 cents, or 0.70 percent, to close at $76.07.
Collective Brands Inc. rose 14 cents, or 0.79 percent, to close at $17.92.
Commerce Bancshares Inc. rose 41 cents, or 1.08 percent, to close at $38.51.
Compass Minerals rose 48 cents, or 0.68 percent, to close at $71.14.
DST Systems Inc. rose 44 cents, or 0.82 percent, to close at $54.01.
Ferrellgas Partners L.P. fell 81 cents, or 4.49 percent, to close at $17.24.
Garmin Ltd. rose 43 cents, or 0.91 percent, to close at $47.43.
Great Plains Energy rose 7 cents, or 0.36 percent, to close at $19.76.
H Block Inc. rose 10 cents, or 0.63 percent, to close at $15.97.
Inergy L.P. fell 38 cents, or 2.23 percent, to close at $16.67.
Kansas City Life Insurance Co. fell 16 cents, or 0.50 percent, to close at $31.94.
Kansas City Southern rose 99 cents, or 1.43 percent, to close at $70.02.
Layne Christensen Co. rose 10 cents, or 0.43 percent, to close at $23.16.
O'Reilly Automotive Inc. fell 18 cents, or 0.20 percent, to close at $89.92.
Sprint Nextel Corp. rose 17 cents, or 7.00 percent, to close at $2.60.
UMB Financial Corp. rose 94 cents, or 2.24 percent, to close at $42.92.
Waddell Reed Financial Corp. rose 41 cents, or 1.35 percent, to close at $30.69.
YRC Worldwide Inc. rose 7 cents, or 0.86 percent, to close at $8.23.Bloomberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.