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Stocks edge higher in midday on Wall Street

FILE - In this Thursday, May 2, 2013, file photo, Trader Kevin Lodewick works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets were mixed Friday May 17, 2013 as investors digested a slew of disappointing data from the U.S. ahead of the release of a key measurement of the country's economic outlook. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Encouraging news about the U.S. economy is helping push stock prices higher on Wall Street.

A gauge of future economic activity rose more than analysts had expected, as did a measure of consumer confidence, adding to evidence that the economy is steadily recovering.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 63 points at 15,296 at noon Eastern Daylight Time Friday, an increase of 0.4 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 was up eight points at 1,658, or 0.5 percent.

The Nasdaq composite rose 16 points to 3,481, or 0.5 percent.

Northrop Grumman rose 5 percent after the defense contractor approved the repurchase of another $4 billion of its own stock. The company said it plans to buy back a quarter of its outstanding stock by the end of 2015.