THE DOW: The Dow Jones industrial average broke a three-day losing streak on news that unemployment claims fell last week to their lowest level in 3 1/2 years. The New York and Philadelphia branches of the Federal Reserve reported strong increases in regional manufacturing.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO U.S.: Investors had sent the Dow down 360 points in the previous three days over fears about the European debt crisis. On Thursday they shifted their focus to the improving U.S. economy.
FEDEX DELIVERS: The cargo carrier soared 8 percent after reporting that its income nearly doubled on higher online retail sales. FedEx is considered a barometer of the economy; if people are shipping more, they're probably shopping more, too.