NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are closing with big gains after an
unexpected drop in new applications for unemployment benefits and
strong retail sales.
The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest jump since Dec.1.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level since May 2008.
Separately, an index of hiring by service companies rose to its highest level since April 2006.
Limited Brands Inc., Macy's Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. all reported sales gains.
At the close, the Dow is up 191 points, or 1.6 percent, to 12,258.
The S&P 500 is up 22, or 1.7 percent, to 1,330.
The Nasdaq composite is up 50, or 1.8 percent, to 2,798.
Five stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Volume came to 1.1 billion shares.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)