Investors have become more confident about economic growth in recent weeks.
In the US, the latest weekly unemployment figures indicated a strengthening jobs market.
The Labor Department said the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000,
It was the lowest total for five and a half years.
US manufacturing grew at its fastest rate in more than two years as orders and production jumped, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index.
Other reports also showed manufacturing growth in both Europe and China.
On Wednesday the US Federal Reserve said it would maintain its current level of economic stimulus, set at $85bn a month, and delivered a relatively positive outlook for the US economy.
Later the European Central Bank and the Bank of England both held interest rates unchanged at historically low levels.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index was up 113 points at 15,613.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 36 points at 3,662 – a rise of nearly 1%.