NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market edged higher after encouraging news about the economy Wednesday.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 316,000, the Labor Department said, a sign that workers are in less danger of being laid off. A private survey by the University of Michigan and financial data company Thomson Reuters showed that consumer confidence increased in November.
"Today's economic news was generally favorable," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "In the absence of bad news, the path of least resistance for equities is up."
The stock market is trading at record levels on a combination of solid corporate earnings, a healthier economy and easy-money policies from the Federal Reserve. The Fed is buying $85 billion in bonds every month to keep long-term interest rates low, making bonds less attractive than stocks for investors.
Hewlett-Packard rose in early trading after it posted net income of $1.4 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter. The world's second-largest maker of PCs also issued a strong profit forecast for its current quarter.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,806 as of 12:14 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,092.
The Nasdaq composite, which closed above 4,000 for the first time in 13 years Tuesday, kept rising. The index advanced 17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,035.
Gains in the S&P 500 were led by technology stocks. They were spearheaded by Hewlett-Packard, which rose $1.84, or 7.4 percent, to $26.94, the biggest increase in the index.
On the losing side, Analog Devices fell $2.81, or 6 percent, to $47.12 after the chipmaker reported sales late Tuesday that fell below Wall Street estimates. The Norwood, Mass., company expects a seasonal slowdown to hurt revenue during the holidays. Its stock fell the most in the S&P 500 index.
Trading volumes were lower than average ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, when the stock market will be closed. The New York Stock exchange and the Nasdaq will close early on Friday.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.74 percent from 2.71 percent on Tuesday.
The price of oil fell as a U.S. report on crude supplies pointed to a surprisingly high increase last week. Oil dropped $1.53, or 1.6 percent, to $92.14 a barrel.
Gold fell $2.30, or 0.2 percent, to $1,239 an ounce.