Stocks Begin Higher as Fed Rally Continues

U.S. stocks opened higher Friday, extending a rally that had the Standard & Poor’s 500 hitting its highest level since 2007, in the wake of an aggressive plan by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 65.77 points, or 0.49%, to 13,605.63. The S&P 500 index rose 8.39 points, or 0.57%, to 1,468.38. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 26.41 points, or 0.84%, to 3,182.24.

U.S. consumers paid sharply higher prices for gasoline in August as an extended bout of low inflation was broken, at least temporarily, government data showed Friday. The consumer price index jumped 0.6% last month to mark the biggest advance since June 2009, the Labor Department reported.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH), the health insurance company, will replace Kraft Foods in the Dow Jones industrial average, the most widely known barometer of the American stock market. S&P Dow Jones Indices, which manages the Dow, said Friday that the change will take effect at the start of trading Sept. 24. It said the change reflected the growing importance of health care spending in the U.S. economy.

Avon Products Inc. says the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided it won’t recommend any action against the beauty products company over whether Avon contacted analysts inappropriately during a separate bribery investigation.

Spanish government debt rose to 75.9 percent of its economy in the second quarter of the year according to figures published by the Bank of Spain. The figure is up 9.2 percent year-on-year and is the highest ratio in at least 22 years. The total debt ascended to €804 billion ($1.0 trillion), up €99 billion year-on-year, Spain’s central bank said in a statement Friday.

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