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Wall Street Stocks Edge Higher

December 4, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices were slightly higher in early trading Thursday after ending mixed the day before. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 10 points. Advancing issues on the New York Stock Exchange held a narrow lead over decliners.

The Nasdaq composite index was ahead 8 points, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 1.

Retail sales and the job market were likely the driving forces behind Wall Street in the early going.

Before the opening bell, the nation’s leading retailers reported mixed sales for the Thanksgiving shopping weekend and all of November. Wal-Mart reported modest results, while Sears, Kohl’s and Federated struggled. Gap and Saks recorded sales that beat analysts’ expectations.

Also before the start of trading, the government reported that first-time applications for unemployment benefits rose last week, but that the total number remained within the range that suggests a stable employment market.

Analysts say that news isn’t likely a market mover in any event as investors wait for tomorrow’s release of the November unemployment and payrolls data.

Also on the minds of market players is Intel’s mid-quarter update which the chipmaker will hold after the closing bell.

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