Encouraging news on the U.S. job market pushed stocks higher on Wall Street Thursday, sending the market toward some big milestones, according to AP. The Dow Jones industrial average rose back near 16,000 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was just below 1,800 points. Both indexes crossed those levels for the first time on Monday, but have yet to close above them. First-time applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 21,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest sign that the U.S. job market is recovering. The number of applications, which is a proxy for how many workers are being laid off, is now near where it was before the Great Recession.