Stocks are rising after the government reported that the number of claims for unemployment benefits remained at a level consistent with modest job growth. Contracts to buy homes rose to the highest level in a year and a half.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95 points at 12,246 as of 11:45 a.m. Thursday. The S&P 500 rose 9 points to 1,257, and is at breakeven for the year. The Nasdaq composite index rose 17 at 2,606.
The four-week average of unemployment claims fell to a three-and-a-half-year low of 375,000, an indication that hiring could pick up.
The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements jumped 7.3 percent last month. Stocks of builders like PulteGroup and Lennar rose.