Earnings gains drive stocks higher on Wall Street

NEW YORK – Stocks are closing at record level as investors were encouraged by earnings gains at major U.S. companies and good news on the economy.

Unemployment claims fell and manufacturing surged in the mid-Atlantic region.

Morgan Stanley rose 4 percent to $27.70 after reporting sharply higher earnings and a share buyback. Energy stocks jumped after oil shot to a 16-month high.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,548 Thursday, led by UnitedHealth Group and IBM.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose eight, or 0.5 percent, to 1,689.

The Nasdaq edged up a point to 3,611, held back by Intel and eBay, which reported disappointing results.

Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was average at 3.4 billion shares.