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Economic Reports Set Off Stock Rally

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks pushed higher Thursday as two positive reads on the economy helped out.
The Dow closed up 85 points at 13,596.02, just shy of its five-year high of 13,610.15.

The Nasdaq gained 18 points to close at 3,136. The S&P added eight points at 1,480.93.
The housing sector capped off the year with strong numbers.  The Commerce Department says home construction surged more than 12 percent in December. Contractors broke ground on the most new homes since the housing bubble burst in the summer of 2008.
First-time jobless claims hit a five-year low last week. The Labor Department says it's partly due to seasonal fluctuations.
Meanwhile, Boeing will continue production of its 787 Dreamliners, despite the grounding of its planes over safety concerns.  Investigators are trying to solve the electrical problems that caused one battery to catch fire and another to leak in the past two weeks.
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