US STOCKS-Wall St jumps for 2nd day, helped by economic optimism
* S&P 500 now positive for 2015 so far
* Jobless claims point to tightening labor market
* Indexes up: Dow 1.8 pct, S&P 1.8, Nasdaq 1.9 pct (Updates to later afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped more than 1 percent for a second day in afternoon trading on Thursday, lifted by expectations the U.S. economy will continue to accelerate.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were slightly above expectations but slipped from the prior week, pointing to a firming labor market just ahead of Friday's key monthly payrolls report.
The advance was broad, with the materials, energy and technology sectors each up more than 2 percent, leading the day's gains.
Stocks on Wednesday had snapped a five-day losing streak after strong private sector jobs data and as minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting reassured investors the bank was in no hurry to start raising interest rates.
The S&P 500 is now on track for a gain of about 3 percent for the last two sessions after losing 4.2 percent in the previous five sessions. The index is in positive territory for the year and back above its 50-day average, a technical support level it fell below on Monday. Continuación...