Stocks Gain After Unemployment Claims Fall

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks indexes are heading for a fifth straight gain after the government reported another drop in claims for unemployment benefits, the latest sign that the job market is improving.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 46 points at 14,324 shortly before noon EST Thursday. The Dow barreled through a record high Tuesday and has been adding to those gains.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points to 1,544. The Nasdaq composite rose nine points to 3,231.

The market got a boost after the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell by 7,000 last week, driving the four-week average to its lowest in five years.

Supermarket chain Kroger rose 4 percent after reporting earnings that easily beat the forecasts of Wall Street analysts.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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