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Retailers Help Nudge US Stocks Higher in Early Trade

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U.S. stock indexes are edging higher in early trading Wednesday, and Macy’s is leading a retail sector rally. Food and beverage stocks and other consumer goods companies also posted gains. Energy stocks lagged as crude oil prices declined. Bond prices were little changed.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,718 as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow gained 35 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,742. The Nasdaq composite added 30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,381. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 5 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,605.

RETAIL RALLY: Macy’s jumped 6.3 percent to $31.81 after reporting quarterly results that were far better than analysts were expecting. The company said its Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury divisions as well as its flagship store brand all did well. Several other department store chains also moved higher. Norstrom added 0.6 percent to $50.16, while L Brands gained 2.4 percent to $34.12.

FIDO APPROVED: Abaxis vaulted 15.3 percent to $82.74 after the veterinary diagnostic products company agreed to be acquired by Zoetis.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 3.07 percent. On Tuesday, the yield climbed to its highest level in nearly seven years.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gave up 38 cents to $70.93 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oil, shed 52 cents to $77.91 a barrel in London.

The slide in crude prices pulled down energy stocks. Phillips 66 shed 1.7 percent to $116.35.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.19 yen from 110.38 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1798 from $1.1847.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe rose. Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 added 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.4 percent following new data showing that Japan’s economy contracted in the first quarter. The Kospi in South Korea was essentially flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent.

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