NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging economic reports led stocks to higher ground Thursday. The Dow rose 62 points, or 0.51 percent, to close at 12,170. The index has risen 409 points over the previous three days. The S&P 500 was up 10 points, while the Nasdaq surged 21. Coming into the final trading session of the week, the key averages are up 1.7 to 2.8 percent. Futures trading suggests a positive opening this morning.

SINGAPORE (AP) — International stock markets rose today and crude oil jumped above $100 a barrel on signs the U.S. economy is improving. Investors have been cheered in recent weeks by evidence of a rebound in the U.S. — the world’s biggest economy and a crucial export market for many countries in Asia. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week.

WASHINGTON — (AP) There are a few reports due before the three-day Christmas weekend for Wall Street. The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for November, as well as durable goods and new home sales.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A top European Central Bank official says the bank’s decision to buy government bonds was the final push for his decision to resign. Juergen Stark said in an interview published Friday on the website of Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that the controversial purchases were one of the developments that convinced him the eurozone “was on the wrong track.”

UNDATED (AP) — It’s more than the holiday shopping season. It’s also open season for shoplifters. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, an estimated $1.84 billion in merchandise will be shoplifted this year. The Global Retail Theft Barometer says that’s up about 6 percent from 2010.