Investors were encouraged Thursday by a surprising drop in weekly jobless claims – down to their lowest level in three and half years – and economic data showing rising consumer confidence as the Dow Jones Industrial average rallied up 62 points to finish at 12,169.65.

"The jobless data was positive this morning, and is the kind of news that has some people revising their GDP forecasts to be a bit better," Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities in New York, told Reuters. "So long as no dire news comes out, I expect us to edge up through the end of the year."

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