U.S. stock-index benchmarks opened firmly higher Thursday, the final session in August, as a pair of economic reports helped to support recent buying in risk assets like stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up 0.3% at 21,950, flirting with a return to the psychologically significant level of 22,000. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.3% at 2,466, while the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.5% at 6,398. For the month, the Nasdaq is looking at an August gain of 0.8% so far, the S&P 500 has slipped 0.1%, while the Dow is up 0.3% on the month. In corporate news, Shares of retailer Dollar General Corp. and food giant Campbell Soup Co. fell after posting earnings ahead of the open. onsumer spending rose 0.3% last month, helped by higher incomes and low inflation. The pace of inflation, meanwhile, was little changed in July, up 0.1%. On the economic front, initial jobless claims in the period running from Aug. 20 to Aug. 26 rose by 1,000 to 236,000, which is still close to a postrecession low, pointing to another solid monthly employment report near the end of summer. Official jobs report will be released Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Separately, Chicago PMI held steady at 58.9 in August, and consumer spending rose 0.3% last month, helped by higher incomes and low inflation. The pace of inflation, meanwhile, was little changed in July, up 0.1%.