The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose six points to close at 1,698. Thursday, the index's first positive day after five consecutive loses. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55 points to 15,328. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26 points to end at 3,787.
Unemployment claims fell close to their lowest level in six years last week, the government reported Thursday.
A pair of big retailers also delivered encouraging news.
Bed Bath & Beyond rose $3.32, or 5 per cent, to $77.54 after its quarterly profit increased 11 per cent.
J.C. Penney Co. rose 30 cents, or 3 per cent, to $10.42, after the company said it is pleased with its turnaround efforts.