Stocks edge higher after encouraging jobs reports
NEW YORK -- Stocks edged higher Thursday after a pair of reports provided more evidence that the U.S. is maintaining a slow but steady economic recovery.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week and is near the lowest level since June 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. Weekly applications are just 1,000 above a five-year low reached last month.
Also, a survey from the payroll company ADP showed that American businesses added 176,000 jobs in August, fewer than in June and July but roughly in line with the monthly average for the year.
The encouraging reports came one day before the government releases its closely watched employment survey for August. Many investors believe that a strong report will ensure that Federal Reserve policymakers will decide to reduce, or "taper," economic stimulus at their meeting later this month.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.61 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 14,937.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,655.08. The Nasdaq composite gained 9.74 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,658.78.