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Stocks open higher after unemployment claims fall

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2013, file photo, Maureen Smaldone, a trader for Brendan E. Cryan and Company, monitors trading activity from her workstation at the New York Stock Exchange. The positive mood in financial markets showed few signs of abating Thursday March 7, 2013 ahead of policy statements from Europe's top two central banks. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are edging higher in early trading as traders look over some mixed news on the U.S. economy.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits sank last week. But the government also said the economy shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent in the first three months of the year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose six points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,915 in the first few minutes of trading Thursday. The S&P 500 is at a record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,665. The Nasdaq rose 18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,243.

Hillshire Brands jumped 16 percent after Tyson Foods made an offer for the company, two days after a separate bid from poultry producer Pilgrim's Pride.