Jobs report pushes stocks up despite debt worries

NEW YORK (AP) ? A strong report on jobs is sending stocks higher even as a stalemate continues over the U.S. debt limit.

The government reported first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 for the first time in four months. That’s a sign that employers are laying off fewer workers.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 11 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,311 in early trading.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 is up less than a point at 1,306. The Nasdaq composite is down 2, or 0.1 percent, at 2,763.

House Republicans are preparing to vote Thursday on a plan to avoid a default. The legislation faces opposition from Senate Democrats. The White House has also threatened to veto the proposal.