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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