U.S. stocks rallied on Thursday on news the U.S. economy expanded at a faster clip in the third quarter than investors were expecting. At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow 30 rose 1.01%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.62%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.37%. The CBOE Volatility Index index, which measures the outlook for market volatility, was down 4.22% at 14.51. The Commerce Department reported earlier that the U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in the three months to September, beating forecast for 3% growth. While the report stoked expectations that the Federal Reserve remains set to hike interest rates in 2015, stocks rose on sentiments that business will be on the rise next year despite rising borrowing costs. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it was ending its monthly bond-buying program due to improvements taking place in the labor market. Elsewhere, the Labor Department reported earlier that the number of individuals filing new claims for jobless benefits rose by 3,000 to 287,000, confounding market forecasts for a decline to 283,000, though stocks shrugged off the data. In company news, credit card giant Visa Inc (NYSE:V) reported third-quarter profits that beat market expectations and added mobile payments will fuel even more business going forward. Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Visa Inc (NYSE:V), up 10.35%, Merck & Company Inc (NYSE:MRK), up 1.98%, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), up 1.40%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst performers included Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), down 3.97%, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), down 1.23%, and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), down 0.15%. European indices, meanwhile, ended the day higher. After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.36%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.74%, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.35%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.15%.