Stocks Ended Higher on Strong Economic Data

U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday, boosted by strong economic data that helped offset uncertainty about the timing of the next Federal Reserve interest-rate hike. The Dow industrial Average climbed 23.76 points, or 0.13%, to 18,597.70. The S&P 500 gained 4.80 points, or 0.22%, to 2,187.02. The Nasdaq Composite added 11.49 points, or 0.22%, to 5,240.15.

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 4,000 to 262,000 to mark a one-month low, a sign the labor market remained healthy in late summer.

The Philadelphia Fed’s barometer of regional manufacturing activity rebounded slightly into positive territory in August. The Philly Fed’s gauge of regional manufacturing activity rose to positive 2 in August from negative 2.9 in July.

Massachusetts unemployment rate fell slightly in July, reaching its lowest point in almost 15 years, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday.

Oil futures stretched their streak of gains to a sixth session in a row Thursday to settle at their highest level in nearly two months—lifting crude into a bull market. September West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.43, or 3.1%, to settle at $48.22 a barrel. October Brent crude gained $1.04, or 2.1%, to $50.89 a barrel.

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