NEW YORK (AP) — More encouraging reports on the U. S. economy are sending U. S. stocks higher even as the Japanese market slides again.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,046 points in midday trading Thursday. It was down as much as 41 points in the early going. The Dow is coming off its first three-day losing streak since December.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up six points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,618. The Nasdaq composite rose 12 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,413.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, and retail sales increased 0.6 percent in May from April.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index slumped 6.4 percent as doubts grew that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic turnaround plan will succeed.

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