NEW YORK – U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading. Energy stocks rose more than the rest of the market as the price of oil climbed. Among individual stocks, Salesforce.com was among the biggest gainers after reporting earnings that exceeded the forecasts of Wall Street analysts.
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KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index increased three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,129 as of 10:07 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 18,296. The Nasdaq composite was up eight points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,080.
GOING NOWHERE FAST: Although the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 index set record closing highs earlier this week, trading has been sluggish and the stock market has remained trapped in a narrow range. The S&P 500 index has gained just 0.1 percent this week after a series small gains and losses.
SALES GAIN: Salesforce.com was among the early gainers after reporting results that beat analysts' forecasts. The stock rose $3.76, or 5 percent, to $73.98.
ON THE ECONOMY: More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, though the number of applications remains at a historically low level that is consistent with a healthy job market.
Weekly applications increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, fell to a fresh 15-year low of 266,250.
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CHINA, EUROPE DATA: Manufacturing in China shrank for the third month in May as demand remained soft, raising the chances of more stimulus to prop up growth in the world's No. 2 economy. HSBC's preliminary manufacturing index came in at 49.1, slightly better than April's 48.9 but still indicating a contraction.
In Europe, a similar survey showed employers were hiring at their fastest level in four years. The improvement came as the weaker euro was helping exporters get more business. Overall business activity, however, slowed down.
EUROPE'S DAY: France's CAC 40 was flat, Germany's DAX dropped 0.1 percent and Britain's FTSE fell 0.2 percent
ASIA SCOREBOARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 was barely changed while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent. South's Korea Kospi dropped 0.8 percent. China's Shanghai Composite jumped 1.9 percent as the weak data reinforced hopes for more government measures to boost the economy. The index has more than doubled over the past year.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.25 to $60.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.22 percent from 2.25 percent on Wednesday. The dollar fell to 121.08 yen from 121.25 yen. The euro rose to $1.1128 from $1.1094.