NEW YORK

Stocks climb on jobs news, progress on European debt

Signs of progress in Europe’s debt crisis and an unexpected drop in unemployment claims pushed stocks higher Thursday, a day after the stock market took its worst fall since the summer.

Investors were also relieved by talk that the economist Mario Monti is likely to replace Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who was seen as an obstacle to meaningful economic reforms. Italy’s president pledged that Berlusconi will step down soon.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 113 points, or 1 percent, to close at 11,894. It plunged 389 points Wednesday after Italy’s borrowing rates soared and talks in Greece to name a new prime minister broke down.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, called the drop in unemployment claims and the news from Europe encouraging. “It’s got the markets on the cheerful side,” he said.

The S&P 500 index gained 10.60, or 0.9 percent, to 1,239.70. The Nasdaq rose 3.50 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,625.15. Apple Inc. fell 2.5 percent, dragging down the Nasdaq.

WASHINGTON

Panel warns: Gas fracturing poses environmental risks

A federal advisory panel is warning that “serious environmental consequences” could result from the gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing if steps aren’t taken to reduce its impacts.

The seven-member committee said in a report released Thursday that progress by the federal government and the oil and gas industry on 20 recommendations it issued in August has been less than it hoped. It said if actions were not taken to avoid “excessive environmental impacts,” a public outcry could delay or stop the gas-drilling boom.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu asked the panel in May for advice on ways to improve hydraulic fracturing’s safety and environmental soundness.

It recommended reducing air pollution and eliminating diesel fuel and disclosing all other chemicals pumped underground to fracture rock and access natural gas.

Corzine firm questions spur review of futures traders

Federal regulators have ordered a review of all U.S. futures trading firms after hundreds of millions of dollars in client funds disappeared from MF Global, a firm run by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission says it wants to make sure that firms are complying with federal rules that require customers’ money be kept separate from the firms’.

There are roughly 120 U.S. firms that trade futures.