* Weekly jobless claims highest since February
* Chinese regulator restricts sale of shares
* Coty falls after agreeing to buy P&G’s beauty business
* Indexes up: Dow 1.42 pct, S&P 1.35 pct, Nasdaq 1.43 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
July 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were sharply higher at the open on Thursday as trading returned to normal at the New York Stock Exchange, a day after the exchange suspended operations for almost four hours due to a technical glitch.
All 10 major S&P 500 sectors rose as Beijing’s efforts to halt a rout in Chinese stocks finally bore fruit and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s June meeting minutes indicated that a rate hike might be pushed back.
U.S. stocks had fallen sharply on Wednesday as market turmoil in China, a rout in commodity prices, the Greek crisis and a major outage on the New York Stock Exchange spooked investors.
While the NYSE resumed operations late in the trading day on Wednesday, all eyes were on the exchange at the open to see if the fix would withstand heavy opening trade volumes. NYSE accounted for about 13.4 percent of U.S. stocks last month.
China’s securities regulator, in its most drastic step yet to arrest a selloff on Chinese stock markets, banned shareholders with large stakes in listed firms from selling for the next six months.
About 30 percent has been knocked off the value of Chinese shares since mid-June. Some investors fear that the turmoil in the Chinese market could destabilize the global financial system, making it a bigger risk than the Greek crisis.
“The Chinese market has shown a nice rebound for a day but it is important to note that many of the owners are restricted from selling their shares and half the companies have suspended trading,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
At 9:36 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 249.3 points, or 1.42 percent, at 17,764.72, the S&P 500 was up 27.54 points, or 1.35 percent, at 2,074.22 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 70.30 points, or 1.43 percent, at 4,980.06.
Fed officials need to see more signs of a strengthening U.S. economy before raising interest rates, according to minutes of the central bank’s June policy meeting, at which Greece’s debt crisis was cited as a serious concern.
New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week to their highest rate since February with initial claims rising 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 for the week that ended July 4.
European markets rose on hopes that Greece might be able to win a deal that could keep it in the euro zone.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has until midnight to propose spending-cut plans that will convince the euro zone to give Athens a three-year loan to rescue it from bankruptcy.
U.S. quarterly earnings season kicked off with Alcoa’s quarterly profit missing expectations due to plunging primary aluminum prices.
Corporate profits are expected to have fallen 3.1 percent in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters estimates data.
Coty’s shares fell 7.4 percent to $29.18 after Procter & Gamble agreed to sell its beauty business to the company in a deal that values the business at $12.5 billion. P&G shares were up 1 percent at $81.78.
Walgreens Boots Alliance was up 3.4 percent at $88.93 after the largest U.S. drug store chain raised its full-year profit forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,440 to 200. On the Nasdaq, 2,124 issues rose and 238 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 8 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Ted Kerr and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)