(AP)

Stocks are climbing after a surprise dip in unemployment claims and stronger sales reports from retailers. The Dow Jones industrial average was trading just below 11,000 for the first time since early May, shortly before the “flash crash.”

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Traders are upbeat Thursday as the Labor Department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell last week. Economists were predicting a slight increase.

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Gains are being kept in check as traders prepare for the government’s monthly employment report Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 24, or 0.2 percent, at 10,991. The S&P 500 is up 3, or 0.3 percent, at 1,163, while the Nasdaq composite index is up 10, or 0.4 percent, at 2,390.

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