After a shaky start, U.S. stocks rebounded Thursday, snapping a two-day losing streak.

Investors welcomed better-than-expected quarterly results from several companies, including Ford, Coach and Harley-Davidson. Homebuilder stocks surged.

Even energy stocks, which were down most of the day, recovered in concert with a slight uptick in oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 8 cents to close at $44.53 a barrel.

New government data showing that applications for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in almost 15 years added a dash of favorable economic news.

The broader market rally helped the major stock indexes regain some of the ground they lost earlier in the week, though they remain down for the year.

"We've had a bit of a turnaround since the lows we saw earlier in the day," said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. "It appears earnings outside of energy [stocks] have been rather strong."

Investors have had no shortage of market-moving news to digest, from the outcome of a national election in Greece with potential implications for the eurozone, to the Federal Reserve's latest take on the economy and interest rates.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 225.48 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 17,416.85. The S&P 500 index gained 19.09 points, or 1 percent, to 2,021.25. The Nasdaq composite added 45.41 points, or 1 percent, to 4,683.41.