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    Stocks gain after unemployment claims fall

    Encouraging news about the job market and higher profits from CBS, Facebook, and other companies lifted stocks Thursday. The Labor Department said that applications for jobless benefits fell last week to the lowest since January 2008. The decline suggests layoffs are easing and investors see it as a positive ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report. The outlook for global growth also got a boost after the European Central Bank cuts its benchmark interest rate to 0.5 percent. The price of crude oil rose $2.96 to $93.31 a barrel. Investors were also watching earnings on Thursday. General Motors, CBS, and Facebook all rose.