Stocks Start Higher on Economic Data

U.S. stocks opened with modest gains Friday after economic data had durable goods rising in November by the most in four months. A separate report had consumer spending rising less than forecast last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately added 19.00 points to 12,188.65. The S&P 500 added 2.38 points to 1,256.38. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 4.60 points to 2,604.05.

Led higher by transportation equipment, orders in November for long-lasting U.S. goods posted the greatest growth since July, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Durable-goods orders rose 3.8% in November, as transportation-equipment orders rose 14.7%, with a 73.3% gain for nondefense aircraft and parts.

Consumers spent at a lackluster rate in November as their incomes barely grew, suggesting that U.S. households may struggle to sustain their spending into 2012. Consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in November, matching the modest October increase, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Incomes also rose 0.1 percent. That was the weakest showing since a 0.1 percent decline in August.

Moody’s says it is keeping Austria’s triple-A status due to the nation’s robust economy and plans to cap budget deficits. The statement, issued Friday, says the agency “views positively the recent announcement by the government to introduce a balanced budget requirement into the constitution as well as attempts to limit the sovereign’s exposure to the banking system’s foreign operations.”

China’s government announced another cut in railway construction spending Friday amid concern about the debts of the world’s biggest rail network and the safety of its showcase bullet trains.

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