U.S. stock benchmarks rose on Thursday after data show a further fall in first-time claims for jobless benefits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.17% rose 0.2% to around 33,954, the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.84% rose 0.4% to to 4,133, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.92% advanced 0.7% to 13,388. All three main equity benchmarks were trying to avoid a fourth straight drop. Investors were parsing data that showed that first-time applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a pandemic low last week, the government reported Thursday. Initial jobless claims fell 34,000 to 444,000 in the week ended May 15. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims to fall to a seasonally adjusted 452,000. Separately, a Philadelphia Fed gauge of regional factory activity declined. The data come after Fed minutes from Wednesday, showed that "a number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee's goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases." In corporate news, Hormel Foods Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209170265/composite HRL +1.84% , reported Thursday fiscal second-quarter profit and sales that topped expectations, and raised its full-year outlook, even as volumes declined.