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US stocks close higher on strong economic data

US stocks closed solidly higher Thursday after US data pointed to an improving employment and housing picture.

In closing trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84.86 points (0.63 percent) to 13,596.09.

The broad-based S&P 500 increased 8.3 points (0.56 percent) to 1,480.93.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 18.46 points (0.59 percent) to 3,136.0

The improving picture came as the Department of Labor released data Thursday that pointed to the lowest number of new jobless claims in five years.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department released data that showed the number of new houses under construction rebounded strongly in December.