STOCKS INCH UP: Encouraging economic reports sent stocks slightly higher Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points to 12,169.
JOBS: Applications for unemployment fell for the third week in a row. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level since April 2008, the government said.
ECONOMY: The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators rose strongly in November for the second straight month. The economy is gaining momentum, and the risks of a recession are receding, economists with the business research group said.