An encouraging earnings forecast from UPS and stronger manufacturing figures gave the stock market its sixth straight advance. The gains Thursday were modest following a surprise increase in newly laid-off people seeking unemployment benefits.

Analysts said a slowdown in the market's upward push was overdue. The stock market has been churning steadily higher after major indexes hit 12-year lows last March. Growing expectations for a recovery have been driving the climb. The increases in the past two months have been more subdued.

Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital in Pittsburgh, said the market's more consistent advance since February is welcome because it means investors aren't getting overly optimistic.

"We are seeing a straight line [higher], but there's not a whole lot of exuberance to it," he said. "There is a tremendous amount of skepticism about the market, and that's a good thing."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,144.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.02, or 0.1 percent, to 1,211.67, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 10.83, or 0.4 percent, to 2,515.69.- AP

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