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Stocks rise on encouraging reports on the economy

Steve Rothwell, Markets writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks advanced in early trading after unemployment claims fell close to their lowest level in six years and a new data that showed economic growth accelerated in the third quarter.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index had dropped for five straight days through Wednesday, its longest losing streak this year, because of the potential for a government shut down as the administration and the GOP square off in a budget fight.

The S&P 500 rose eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,701. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 82 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,353. The Nasdaq composite gained 27, or 0.7 percent, to 3,788.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 305,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Steady declines in applications indicate that fewer companies are laying off workers.

Economic growth accelerated to a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, the Commerce department said today. The economy grew 1.1 percent growth in the January-March quarter.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year note climbed to 2.66 percent from 2.63 percent Wednesday.

The price of oil rose 16 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $102.85 a barrel. Gold fell $3.60, or 0.3 percent, to $1,322.50 an ounce.

Among stocks making big moves:

— Bed Bath & Beyond rose $3.95, or 5.3 percent, to $78.16 after the company said that its fiscal second-quarter profit increased 11 percent on stronger sales at its string of retail chains. That exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

— Hertz fell $2.81, or 11 percent, to $22.97 after the company cuts its earnings and revenue forecasts because of weaker-than-expected volume for U.S. airport car rentals of its namesake brand. Its shares dropped sharply in premarket trading.

— Caesars Entertainment fell $1.08, or 5 percent, to $19.90 after the Las Vegas-based company said late Wednesday that it plans to sell up to 11.5 million of its shares in a public offering.