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Stocks edge higher after overseas markets rebound

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks edged higher in early trading Thursday, despite a worse-than-expected weekly jobs report.

The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly to 576,000 last week. Economists, who are hoping for a return to economic growth this year, had predicted a decline.

However, US stocks got some support from a rebound in overseas markets. In China, the Shanghai market bounced back from a sharp sell-off and the major European indexes were all up about 1 percent.

Treasury prices fell after several days of gains — a sign that investors were feeling a bit more optimistic about the economy's prospects. Demand for government debt, considered a safe-haven asset, tends to rise when investors are nervous about the economy.

Investors also were poring over more earnings reports from retailers and other companies that directly serve the consumer. The news from Sears Holdings Corp. wasn't good; the retailer posted a bigger loss than expected in the second quarter as its sales fell and it closed stores.

Other companies, though, beat Wall Street's expectations. H.J. Heinz Co. said its fiscal first-quarter profit fell due to in part to the stronger dollar, but results topped analysts' estimates. And Hormel Foods Corp. said its third-quarter profit rose 49 percent, exceeding analyst projections.

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Stocks have been trading erratically this week as investors, absorbing mixed economic signals, have alternated between optimism and pessimism about a recovery.

In early trading, the Dow Jones industrials rose 28.41, or 0.3 percent, to 9,307.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.25, or 0.5 percent, to 1,001.71, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 11.37, or 0.6 percent, to 1,980.61.

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