Better manufacturing, jobs news send stocks higher

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stock indexes are closing slightly higher on better news about jobs and manufacturing.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 11,869 Thursday. The Dow lost 360 points over the past three days on worries about Europe’s debt crisis.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since May 2008. That’s a sign that layoffs are easing.

The New York and Philadelphia branches of the Federal Reserve reported big jumps in manufacturing.

All but two of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose. Utilities and health care gained the most.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,216. The Nasdaq rose 2 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,541.