Stocks Opened Higher on Economic Data

U.S. stocks opened with strong gains on Thursday as economic reports from China, the U.K. and the U.S. offered a more optimistic light on the global economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 66.67 points, or 0.51%, to 13,144.01. The S&P 500 index added 8.78 points, or 0.62%, to 1,417.53. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 15.65 points, or 0.52%, to 2,997.35.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 369,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

U.S. companies remained cautious in September and held back on orders for long-lasting manufactured goods that signal investment plans. The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders for durable goods jumped 9.9 a percent last month.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said China’s factory output should grow faster in the last three months of 2012 than in the third quarter, raising hopes the world’s second largest economy may avoid a hard landing toits slowdown.
The U.K. Office for National Statistics reported the economy returned to growth in the third quarter with a stronger-than-expected 1% quarterly rise in gross domestic product.

Procter & Gamble Co., (PG) reported fiscal-first-quarter net income fell 5% on 3.7% lower revenue. Earnings fell to $2.85 billion, or 96 cents a share, from $3 billion, or $1.01 a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Microsoft Corp. kicks off a campaign for the U.S. launch of its newest operating system, Windows 8, on Thursday. Thelatest version of the world’s most dominant computer operating software attempts to bridge the gap between personal computers and fast-growing tablets with its touch-enabled interface. 

United Continental Holdings Inc.(UAL) said Thursday that its third-quarter profit tumbled to $6 million, or 2 cents a share, from $653 million, or $1.69 a share, a year earlier. Revenue dropped 2.6% to $9.9 billion.

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