Stocks gain in early trading in US after strong report on retail sales, hope for Greek deal

EnergyAssociated Press

U.S. stocks rose early Thursday after an encouraging report on retail sales and hope that Greece won't default on its debt. All 10 industry sectors of the Standard & Poor's 500 index were up. Technology stocks had some of the biggest gains.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 climbed eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,113 as of 9:56 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 84 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,084. The Nasdaq composite rose 21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,096.

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SPENDING MORE: Americans ramped up their spending on autos, building materials and clothing in May, a sign that strong job growth is starting to boost sales at stores. Retail sales climbed 1.2 percent in May, the Commerce Department said. Sales have risen 2.7 percent over the past 12 months.

GREEK GAINS: Hopes rose that Greece might be able to reach a deal to get rescue loans and avoid a default this summer. Greek stocks jumped 9 percent after several top officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Greece had committed to reaching a compromise in coming days. Such optimism has proved unfounded in the past, but pressure is growing on Greece, which does not have the money to meet debt repayments due at the end of June.

EUROPE RISING: France's CAC 40 added 1.4 percent while Germany's DAX rose 1.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent.

RATE CUTS: South Korea's central bank lowered its key interest rate to a historic low of 1.5 percent, partly because of concerns the outbreak of the deadly MERS virus could slow the economy. New Zealand's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a point to 3.25 percent as farmers grapple with price drops for milk exports.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.7 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite inched up 0.3 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.4 percent.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.1227 from $1.1348 late Wednesday. The dollar was little changed at 123.67 yen.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 78 cents to $60.65 a barrel in New York.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.45 percent. On Wednesday the yield rose as high as 2.49 percent, its highest level of the year. Investors have been selling government bonds, pushing yields higher, as optimism about the U.S. economy grows.