US stocks Thursday closed solidly higher for a third straight day following positive economic data and comments from a top Federal Reserve official that the Fed would not hastily end its stimulus program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 114.35 (0.77 percent) to 15,024.49, closing above 15,000 for the first time since June 19. The broad-based S&P 500 added 9.94 points (0.62 percent) to 1,613.20, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 25.64 (0.76 percent) to 3,401.86. The gains followed a drop in jobless claims and a big increase in pending home sales, fresh evidence that economic growth remains steady. Suggesting that markets had over-reacted to Fed policy statements last week, William Dudley, chief of the Fed\'s New York branch, emphasized that it would not end its bond-buying stimulus program if the economy does not live up to current forecasts. Most of the companies in the Dow ended higher, including Boeing (up 2.4 percent) and UnitedHealth Group (up 2.0 percent). Bank of America added 2.0 percent, JPMorgan Chase 1.2 percent, and Wells Fargo 1.3 percent. Dish Network rose 3.1 percent after it withdrew its bid to acquire Clearwire, clearing the path for Sprint\'s full takeover of Clearwire. Clearwire fell 2.1 percent, while Sprint slipped 0.1 percent. ConAgra Foods rose 5.1 percent after reporting earnings of 60 cents per share, one cent above expectations. The company expects higher profits in 2014 and at least 10 percent per-year profit growth in fiscal 2015-2017. Research in Motion fell 2.9 percent one day ahead of a company earnings report that is expected to reveal how the company\'s much-advertised smartphone is performing. Bed Bath & Beyond dipped 0.2 percent after reporting earnings of 93 cents per share, 21 cents less than expected. Payroll processor Paychex fell 3.7 percent after missing earnings estimates by 11 cents per share and posting revenues of $585.3 million, below the $610.8 million expected. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.48 percent from 2.54 percent late Wednesday, while the 30-year declined to 3.55 percent from 3.57 percent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.