Stocks Up in Early Trading after Economic Data

U.S. stocks were higher in early on Monday after the government reported consumer spending was unchanged in May. The Dow JonesĀ  Industrial Average lately rose 51.39 points to 11,985.97. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 3.93 points to 1,272.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.00 points to 2,660.89.

Americans spent in May at the weakest pace in 20 months, a sign that high gas prices and unemployment are holding back the economy. Consumer spending was unchanged, the Commerce Department said Monday. And when adjusted for inflation, spending actually dropped 0.1 percent. Incomes rose 0.3 percent for the second straight month. But adjusted for inflation, after-tax incomes increased only 0.1 percent in May, after falling by the same amount in the previous month.

The Federal Reserve will remain the biggest buyer of Treasuries, even after the second round of quantitative easing ends this week, as the central bank uses its $2.86 trillion balance sheet to keep interest rates low.

French banks are ready to help troubled Greece by accepting a significant debt rollover, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday, a move that could push other banks to pitch in to the Europe-wide effort to keep Athens from defaulting.

Oil prices slipped below $91 a barrel Monday. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for August delivery was down 61 cents to $90.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Facebook overtook Microsoft websites in Britain for the first time last month, becoming the UK’s second-most popular after Google as people aged over 50 flocked to social networks, online measurement body UKOM/Nielsen said. Facebook attracted a record 26.8 million visitors in Britain in May, up 7 percent year on year, beating the 26.2 million who visited Microsoft’s MSN/WindowsLive/Bing sites combined, the organization said on Monday. Google had 33.9 million.

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