NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street after a drop in unemployment applications encouraged investors that the U. S. economic recovery is continuing.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37 points to 14,495 shortly after the opening bell Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up four at 1,558. It's just six points away from the record high it reached in October 2007.

The Nasdaq composite rose ten points to 3,254.

Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, dropping the average number of weekly applications last month to a five-year low, according to the Labor Department. The four-week average, which is a more stable indicator, fell to 346,750, the lowest since March 2008, several months after the economy went into decline.

Economists had expected weekly jobless claims to rise.

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