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 US Stocks at a Glance

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Number of posts : 440
Registration date : 2007-07-01

PostSubject: US Stocks at a Glance   Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:43 pm

US Stocks at a Glance

Stocks open higher after data

NEW YORK - Stocks rose in early trading Thursday as investors regained some confidence in the economy after reports showed a rebound in worker productivity, fewer jobless claims and robust August retail sales.

Last week, for the first time in seven weeks, claims for unemployment benefits dropped, the Labor Department said. It also reported that worker productivity jumped to an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent in the April to June quarter, much better than expected.

The snapshots boded well for Friday's August employment report, the week's most anticipated piece of economic data. If Americans have jobs, they can usually keep paying their mortgages and spending money.

Investors have been alert for any sign that recent financial market turmoil has hurt consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Most retailers Thursday reported robust August same-store sales, a key performance gauge, but investors appeared unconvinced that the strong spending of the back-to-school season would last into the coming months.

In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.09, or 0.20 percent, to 13,331.56. Broader stock indicators were also higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.67, or 0.18 percent, at 1,474.96, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.14, or 0.24 percent, to 2,612.09.

Bonds slipped, lifting the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note

to 4.48 percent from 4.47 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices jumped.

Investors continue to place bets on the direction of interest rates. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, issued Wednesday, gave some investors pause who were banking on a cut in the benchmark federal funds rate: The report suggested that while problems in the credit markets have exacerbated a housing market slump, the turmoil hasn't damaged the broader economy. Stocks fell sharply, taking the Dow Jones industrials down more than 140 points.

Among the retailers to report August results on Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said same-store sales, which measure business at stores open at least one year, rose 3.1 percent. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast a more modest 1.5 percent increase.

Tony department store chain Saks Inc., teen apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and children's clothier The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. were among those that topped analyst projections.

In other corporate news, troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. said late Wednesday it will cut another 900 jobs nationwide after eliminating about 500 positions last month. The nation's largest mortgage lender by volume employs about 60,000 people.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.79, or 0.48 percent, to 794.25. Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.41 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 0.24 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.47 percent.
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