Stocks edge higher after encouraging jobs reports

Stocks edged higher amid more evidence the US is maintaining a slow but steady economic recovery. The number of people seeking jobless benefits fell last week and is near the lowest level since June 2008, the Labor Department said. Applications are just 1,000 above the five-year low reached last month. And an ADP payroll survey showed US businesses in August added 176,000 jobs, roughly in line with the monthly average for the year. The reports came a day before the closely watched US employment survey for August. A strong report may push the Fed to cut its stimulus; after that, markets could be volatile for weeks, some observers say.