Stocks open higher on encouraging economic reports

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks are rising after the opening bell following encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is growing at a faster clip than earlier in the year and fewer people are applying for unemployment benefits.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 28, or less than 1 percent, to 12,136 early Thursday. The S&P 500 index is up 3, or less than 1 percent, to 1,247. The Nasdaq is up 10, or less than 1 percent, to 2,588.

The Commerce Department says the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the July-September quarter. That was the fastest growth this year, up from 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to its lowest level since April 2008.