Stocks rise after better housing, jobless reports

Stocks gain following strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims; EBay jumps

Associated Press
S&P 500 surges on housing starts, jobless claims
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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, file photo, Jeffrey Vazquez, right, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock futures jumped Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, as the government reported that weekly applications for unemployment benefits hit a five-year low and the construction of new homes surged. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are closing higher, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index to another five-year high, after strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 gained eight points to close at 1,480 Thursday, its highest level since December 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average also rose, gaining 84 points to 13,596. The Nasdaq composite rose 18 points to 3,136.

U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week.

EBay rose after reporting higher earnings.

Rising stocks outnumbered falling ones three to one on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was average, 3.7 billion shares.

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