Stocks Open Higher, Exxon Tops Forecasts

U.S. stocks opened modestly higher on Thursday after data showed a surprise uptick in jobless claims and consumer spending rose more than expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 21.00 points, or 0.13%, to 16,601.84. The S&P 500 was up 0.99 point, or 0.05%, at 1,884.94. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.44 points, or
0.06%, to 4,116.99.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose for the third straight week to their highest level since late February, the Labor Department said Thursday. First-time claims last week reached a seasonally adjusted level of 344,000, up 14,000 from a week earlier.

Consumer spending surged in March by the most in almost five years as warmer weather brought shoppers back to auto-dealer lots and malls, a sign the U.S. economy gained momentum heading into the second quarter. Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, climbed 0.9 percent, the most since August 2009,
after a 0.5 percent gain in February that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington.

Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, posted a quarterly profit on Thursday that hands down beat Wall Street’s expectations. Exxon Mobil reported first-quarter net income of $9.10 billion, or $2.10 per share, compared with $9.50 billion, or $2.12 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

AT&T has approached DirecTV about a possible acquisition of the satellite TV firm, say people familiar with the situation, the latest sign of a possible shake-up in the television industry.

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