NEW YORK - U.S. stocks are higher in midday trading, helped by materials and energy companies which are rising with the price of gold, silver and oil.
Health care stocks are trading sharply lower again Thursday, extending a streak of losses.
The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, but remain at levels consistent with a healthy job market.
FedEx was up 10 percent after the delivery company reported strong holiday-season sales. Williams-Sonoma fell 6 percent after the cookware retailer issued a downbeat forecast.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 102 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,428 as of 12:22 p.m. ET.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,035. The Nasdaq composite fell six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,758.