US STOCKS-Wall St jumps for 2nd day, helped by economic optimism
* S&P 500 positive for 2015 so far
* Jobless claims point to tightening labor market
* Indexes up: Dow 1.8 pct, S&P 1.8, Nasdaq 1.8 pct (Updates to close)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rallied for a second day on Thursday, boosted by expectations the U.S. economy will continue to improve and by hopes for more aggressive action from the European Central Bank.
The S&P 500 added 3 percent over the last two sessions, retracing most of its 4.2 percent loss in the previous five trading days, leaving the index in positive territory for 2015. The Dow and Nasdaq also turned up for the year so far.
The advance was broad, with the S&P materials, energy and technology sectors each rising more than 2 percent, leading the day's gains.
Though slightly above expectations, initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped from the prior week, pointing to a firming labor market ahead of Friday's key monthly payrolls report.
"We're at the point where the jobs reports have been coming in consistently in the 200,000 or 200,000-plus range. I think that just keeps the Fed on track for everything we're expecting," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. Continuación...