NEW YORK Stronger reports on the job market and manufacturing sent stocks slightly higher Thursday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45.33 points, or 0.4 percent, to 11,868.81. The Dow lost 360 points over the last three days on worries that Europes latest plan to keep its currency union intact would fail.
The Nasdaq rose 1.70 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,541.01. The Standard & Poors 500 rose 3.94 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,215.76. The gains were broad.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Bank, said the upturn reflects a shift in investors attention back to recent signs of strength in the U.S. economy.
Were not completely insulated (from Europe), but trouble there doesnt necessary spell problems for us, Ablin said.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to 366,000, the lowest level since May 2008. Thats a sign that layoffs are easing, a first step toward bringing down the unemployment rate, which currently stands at 8.6 percent.
A widely watched index measuring regional manufacturing from the New York branch of the Fed jumped to the highest level since May, far more than economists were expecting. A similar report from the Philadelphia branch also increased faster than analysts anticipated.
FedEx Corp. reported that its quarterly income nearly doubled on strong growth in online shopping during the holiday season. FedEx is seen as a bellwether for the economy. Its stock jumped 8 percent.
All but two of the 10 industry groups in the index rose. Utilities and health care rose the most. S&Ps indexes measuring technology and energy stocks edged down less than 0.3 percent each.
In corporate news, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. jumped 21 percent to $24.20 on its first day of trading. The initial public offering valued the fashion design company at $3.8 billion.
Novellus Systems Inc. jumped 16 percent. The semiconductor equipment maker said late Wednesday that it was being acquired by rival Lam Research Corp. Lam fell 8 percent.
Rite Aid Corp. rose 3.5 percent. The drugstore chain announced that losses had narrowed in its third quarter.
European markets rose slightly, a day after big declines, as an auction of Spanish government bonds drew strong demand from investors. Germanys DAX rose 1 percent; Frances main stock index rose 0.6 percent.
The euro rose against the dollar, moving back above $1.30, a day after hitting an 11-month low. The yields on Spanish and Italian government fell, a sign that investors were less worried about the ability of those countries to pay back their debts.