Stocks rise as unemployment claims drop

NEW YORK (AP) ? U.S. stocks are opening higher after retailers reported better February sales and applications for unemployment benefits hit a four-year low.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 60 points to 13,012 shortly after the opening bell.

The U.S. job market showed more signs of improvement on Thursday as the government reported the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest point in four years.

A four-week average also dropped last week, to 354,000. That’s also the lowest figure in four years.

The S&P 500 index is up 6 points to 1,372. The Nasdaq rose 14 points to 2,980. The Nasdaq briefly topped 3,000 for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday.

Costco Wholesale, Target Corp. and other retailers reported better than expected February sales.