NEW YORK (AP) — Another batch of strong earnings from U.S. companies is sending the stock market higher in early trading.

An encouraging report on the labor market also brought buyers back to the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 26 points to 14,702 shortly after the opening bell Thursday, a gain of 0.2 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose six points to 1,584, or 0.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite was up 20 points at 3,289,

On top of strong earnings from Harley-Davidson, Dow Chemical and Akamai Technologies, the government said that unemployment benefit applications fell to 339,000 last week, the second-lowest level in 5 years.

That was better than most economists had expected and allayed apprehensions about a sharp slowdown in hiring in March.