Wall Street extended its advance Thursday after a better-than-expected reading on the nation's economy and a drop in jobless claims gave...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street extended its advance Thursday after a better-than-expected reading on the nation’s economy and a drop in jobless claims gave investors some reassurance that the economy is holding up.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared 212.67 to close at 11,715.18 following a better-than-expected reading on consumer confidence and manufacturing. Still, for the week, stocks are essentially flat after a big decline Monday on credit worries.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 38 cents to close at $27.94 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained $1.82 to $66.34.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index advanced 19.02 to 1,300.68, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 29.18 to 2,411.64.

A decline in oil prices also appeared to add force to the rally in stocks. But volume was again light heading toward the Labor Day weekend, a condition that can skew price moves.

The Commerce Department’s report that gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 3.3 percent for the April-June period helped punctuate a week of generally upbeat economic readings that have left guarded investors somewhat optimistic. The weaker dollar helped boost U.S. exports, which pushed GDP growth beyond the government’s initial estimate of 1.9 percent as well as economists’ forecast of 2.7 percent.

Also Thursday, the Labor Department said the number of newly laid-off people seeking jobless benefits fell for the third straight week. The number of claims dropped to a seasonally adjusted 425,000, down 10,000 from the previous week. That was slightly better than the 427,000 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

But some economists consider claims above 400,000 an indicator of a slowing economy. Companies have cut jobs every month this year as they grapple with high energy costs and tighter credit.