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Stocks open higher; Barnes & Noble, Hertz jump

Steve Rothwell, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Monday following the first weekly decline in the S&P 500 this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75 points, or 0.5 percent, to 14,076, as of 10:02 a.m. EST. The Dow is within 90 points of the record high of 14,164 it reached in October 2007.

The Standard & Poor's 500 gained nine to 1,525 and the Nasdaq composite advanced 22 to 3,184.

Barnes & Noble rose $1, or 8 percent, to $14.64 after founder and chairman Leonard Riggio told the bookseller he is going to try to buy the company's retail business. Hertz advanced $1.36 to $20.07, despite posting a fourth-quarter loss, after the rental car company said that pricing improved, volume rose and it cut costs.

Stocks gained even with the threat of across-the-board automatic government spending cuts less than a week away. Some $85 billion in cuts will occur over the next seven months starting March 1, with more in following years if lawmakers can't come to an agreement on how to reduce spending in a more measured and targeted manner.

The Standard & Poor's 500 had its first weekly decline of the year last week. Investors sent stocks plunging after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting revealed disagreement over how long to keep buying bonds in an effort to boost the economy.

Many analysts say the Fed's bond-buying program and the resulting low interest rates have been a big driver behind this year's stock rally, which lifted indexes to their highest levels since 2007.

Japanese stocks surged on reports that the prime minister's pick for central bank governor will be a strong advocate of loose monetary policy aimed at reviving the moribund economy. The Nikkei 225 gained 2.4 percent to end at 11,662.52

European stocks also advanced.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, rose three basis points to 1.96 percent.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— Drugmaker Affymax plunged $13.90, or 85 percent, to $2.54 after the company recalled its anemia drug following severe allergic reactions and the deaths of some kidney dialysis patients.