Positive economic reports push Dow up for third day

NEW YORK — Encouraging economic reports pushed stocks higher Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, its third gain in a row.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the latest sign that the job market is healing. It was the third week in a row that applications fell. The Conference Board also reported that its measure of future economic activity had a big increase last month. It was the second straight gain, signaling that the U.S. economy was picking up speed and the risk of another recession was fading.

“Today, Main Street is what matters because Main Street makes up 71 percent of the economy,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Prudential Securities. “You can’t argue with the fact that the cost of gas has come down, which puts more money in the pockets of consumers to spend, and so things are starting to tick up.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61.91 points, or 0.51 percent, to close at 12,169.65. The Dow has risen 409 points over the past three days. Bank of America Corp. rose 4.6 percent to $5.47, the most among the 30 stocks in the Dow.

The S&P 500 index gained 10.28 points, or 0.83 percent, to 1,254. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21.48, or 0.83 percent, to 2,599.45.

Lawsuit: Include cargo pilots in new rules on being rested

WASHINGTON — United Parcel Service pilots went to court Thursday hoping to make the government include them under new rules designed to ensure that airline pilots aren’t too sleepy to fly.

Their union, the Independent Pilots Association, filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration one day after the new rules for passenger airline pilots were announced. Cargo carriers are exempt from the rules. The union wants the court to tell the FAA to reconsider including them, too.

The FAA has said forcing cargo carriers to reduce the number of hours their pilots can fly would be too costly when compared with the safety benefits. Imposing the rules on cargo airlines like Federal Express or UPS would have added another $214 million to the cost, FAA officials said.

But the union said two factors that the FAA cited as exacerbating the risk of pilot fatigue – operating at night and crossing multiple time zones – are more common in cargo operations than in passenger airlines.

Independent Oakhurst Dairy marks 90th year in business

PORTLAND — Oakhurst Dairy is celebrating its 90th year in business.

Maine’s largest dairy says its milk was transported in glass bottles by two horse-drawn wagons in Portland when the company was incorporated 90 years ago Wednesday.

The company now processes 130,000 to 150,000 gallons of milk five days a week and distributes its dairy product in four states.

The Bennett family has owned and operated Oakhurst Dairy for three generations, with four family members now actively involved in running the business.

The company says Oakhurst is the largest family-owned, independent dairy in northern New England.

– From news service reports