Hello Traders,

S&P futures closed higher on Thursday as the short covering rally continued back up to the January 1st trading range.

S&P futures traded up to 2058: 45 points (2.2%) above the previous intraday low at 2013.

S&P futures closed at 2052: 68 points (3.4%) above Monday’s low.

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 Dow Jones industrial average rallied 323points (1.8%) to end 17,907.  The S&P 500 gained 36points (1.7%) to close at 2,062. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 85 points (1.8%), to finish the session at 4,736.

The S&P 500's two-day gains were its biggest since the December 17th & 18th: the previous Federal Reserve-fueled rally of 4.5%.

The S&P also snapped back above its 50-day average, a technical support level it fell below on Monday.

The S&P 500 has recovered the majority of the 104 points (4.9%) decline from its end of the year Santa Claus all-time record high last two sessions, returning  the index to 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.

ON the NYSE: advancing issues (2396) outnumbered declining (718).

Approximately 7.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 6.7 billion average for the last five sessions.

The majority of Tuesday’s gains were the result of a break-out above yesterday’s high in the overnight session. There was no pull-back to fill the “gap” at Wednesday’s close.

The overnight rally continued to accelerate at the open. Following the initial “run” up to 2056 there was one minor intraday pull-back to 2048, after which S&P futures traded up to re-test the high and made a minor higher high 2058.

Market participants seem unconcerned that U.S. crude oil continued to trade below the psychology $50.00 price level for a second day. February Crude closed at $48.79 per barrel.

The shift back to “risk on” sentiment may have also been attributed to the continued weak euro zone data, which has been fueled speculation that the European Central Bank will take more aggressive action: start printing money.

U.S. unemployment benefits declined from the prior week, pointing to a firming labor market ahead of Friday's key monthly payrolls report. The jobs reports have been coming in consistently in the 200,000 or 200,000-plus range.

Friday's December jobs report is expected to show 240,000 non-farm payrolls added.