NEW YORK (AP) - Encouraging economic reports pushed stocks higher Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, its third gain in a row.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the latest sign that the job market is healing. It was the third week in a row that applications fell. The Conference Board also reported that its measure of future economic activity had a big increase last month. It was the second straight gain, signaling that the U.S. economy was picking up speed and the risk of another recession was fading.
"Today, Main Street is what matters because Main Street makes up 71 percent of the economy," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Prudential Securities. "You can't argue with the fact that the cost of gas has come down, which puts more money in the pockets of consumers to spend, and so things are starting to tick up."