By The Associated Press
Stocks closed higher for the fourth day in a row with a strong showing by Rite Aid, Ross Stores and other retailers.
A surprising drop in claims for unemployment benefits last week gave investors more encouragement. Analysts said it's a possible sign that a slowdown in hiring last month may have been temporary.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,865.14.The S&P 500 index rose 5.64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,593.37. The Nasdaq composite gained 2.90 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 3,300.16. For the week: The Dow is up 299.89 points, or 2.1 percent. The S&P 500 is up 40.09 points, or 2.6 percent. The Nasdaq is up 96.30 points, or 3 percent For the year: The Dow is up 1,761.00 points, or 13.4 percent. The S&P 500 is up 167.18 points, or 11.7 percent. The Nasdaq is up 280.65 points, or 9.3 percent.