NEW YORK – Rite Aid, Ross Stores and other retailers surged Thursday after turning in better sales, and major stock market indexes rose for a fourth straight day.

The discount chain Ross Stores jumped 6 percent, the best gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The company said stronger sales in March will likely push profits above its previous estimate this quarter. The stock jumped $3.56 to $63.80.

Rite Aid soared 18 percent to $2.12 after the drugstore chain said higher sales of generic drugs and lower costs helped it post better earnings than analysts had expected.

A surprising drop in claims for unemployment benefits last week gave investors more encouragement. Analysts said it could mean a slowdown in hiring last month may have been temporary.

“The numbers today make it seem like that March report was an anomaly,” said David Heidl, a regional investment manager at U.S. Bank’s wealth management unit. “It’s another reason for optimism.”

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62.90 points to close at 14,865.14, an increase of 0.4 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.64 points, also 0.4 percent, to 1,593.37.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 2.90 points to 3,300.16.