NEW YORK (AP) -- Encouraging economic reports are sending stocks slightly higher in midday trading. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the latest sign that the job market is healing.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29 points, or less than 1 percent, to 12,137 at midday Thursday.
The S&P 500 index rose 5 points, less than 1 percent, to 1,248. The Nasdaq was up 14, also less than 1 percent, at 2,592.
One of the biggest losers was Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., which fell 8 percent on news that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pulled a batch of its powdered infant formula after the death of a newborn Missouri boy.