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NEW YORK (AP) Stocks are closing slightly higher after the government reported that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits sank last week, a sign that employers are laying off fewer people.

Hillshire Brands soared 18 percent after Tyson Foods made a rival bid for the company two days after Pilgrim's Pride made its own offer. Other food company stocks also rose as investors anticipated more deals.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,920 Thursday. The S&P 500 is at a record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,698. The Nasdaq composite rose 22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,247.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.44 percent.