US stocks edge higher in early trading

Stock market shakes off an early decline and turns slightly higher; Guess slumps

Associated Press
Better news on the US economy drives stocks higher

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FILE - In this Friday, March 14, 2014, file photo, trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Global stocks fell Thursday March 20, 2014 after comments from the new head of the Federal Reserve suggested U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were anticipating. (AP Photo/Richard Drew. File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market shook off an early slump and turned higher in midmorning trading Thursday. Guess slumped after the apparel maker reported lower quarterly income and predicted a loss for the current quarter.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,864 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,264. The Nasdaq composite rose seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,315.

TASTY EARNINGS: ConAgra Foods rose 26 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $29.85 after the company said its fiscal third-quarter net income nearly doubled as it continues to benefit from the acquisition of private-label food maker Ralcorp.

JOBS PICTURE: The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, The Labor Department said. That's close to pre-recession levels and suggests a stable job market.

GUESS-TIMATE: Guess fell $1.55, or 5.4 percent, to $27.24 after the company forecast it would make a loss for the current quarter.

THE YELLEN EFFECT: Fed Chair Janet Yellen Wednesday set the stage for a possible interest rate hike by the middle of next year. The Fed also backed away from its previous stance tying interest rates to falling unemployment, which is still hovering at 6.7 percent.

TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices fell a day after the Fed announced it would make further reductions to its bond-buying program. The yield on the 10-year government bond rose to 2.79 percent from 2.77 percent on Thursday. The price of crude oil rose 25 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $99.43 a barrel. Gold dropped $13, or 1 percent, to $1,327.30 an ounce.

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