RISING PROFITS: Software company Red Hat Inc., chip maker Micron Technology Inc. and Chef Boyardee maker ConAgra Foods Inc. all reported profits that beat expectations.
FALLING CLAIMS: The government said fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, evidence that layoffs are slowing. The average number of unemployment applications over the last four weeks has dropped to its lowest level since July 2008.
THE INDEXES: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 84.54 points to close at 12,170.56. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12.12 to 1,309.66. The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.12 points to 2,736.42.