The stock market crept higher Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 48.38 points to 12,836.89. Three of the most expensive stocks in the Dow -- Boeing, IBM and United Technologies -- each rose more than 60 cents. Higher-priced Dow stocks carry more weight.
The Labor Department said that first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell by 41,000 last week to 410,000. The figure remains temporarily high because of superstorm Sandy and was in line with what economists had expected.
"The news today didn't mess anything up," said Harry Clark, CEO of Clark Capital Management, an investment advisory firm in Philadelphia.
That's partially because investors have stopped worrying as much about the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts that are set to take effect Jan. 1, Clark said.
Washington lawmakers have made conciliatory remarks and raised hopes of a deal.
"Both sides appear to have extended an olive branch," said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.
In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.23 percent to 1,391.03. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.34 percent to 2,926.55.