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NEW YORK -Investors are getting enthusiastic about stocks again after some reassuring news from the job market.

Stocks rose for a third straight day Thursday on the Labor Department's report of a larger-than-expected drop in the number of newly laid-off people seeking unemployment benefits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 120.71 points after climbing 275 on Wednesday. The 4.7 percent gain in that time is the Dow's best three-day move since mid May.

Employment news has been the key driver behind the market's moves during the past few weeks. Thursday's news was a welcome change from a string of disappointing jobs reports, including the government's June employment numbers, which have pounded stocks recently.

High unemployment has hurt consumer confidence, which in turn has slowed spending.

Hank Smith, chief investment officer of equity at Haverford Investments, said that some investors have been worried about a so-called "double-dip" in the economy but that more recent data, including Thursday's jobs report, are reminders that the recovery is continuing. "It's hard to see rolling into a double dip," he said.

Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, said that earnings reports from the April-June quarter, which start to arrive next week, will help determine whether longer-term buyers step in. Investors are expected to be most interested in companies' forecasts for the coming quarters. "This market is not worried about the last three months, it's worried about the next three to six months," Krosby said.