Stocks edge higher...Jobless claims fall...Retail sales rise...Mortgage rates tick up again

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Associated Press

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 12:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving higher in early trading on Wall Street. Positive reports on jobs and retail sales are helping to counter the effect of selloffs today in Asia and Europe. Trading has been choppy this week amid uncertainty about how central banks will ease out of the markets that they helped to prop up during the worst of the economic crisis.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has fallen again. The Labor Department says jobless claims dropped by 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 334,000 and the less volatile four-week average decreased by 7,250 to 345,250. Both figures are only about 7,000 above their levels of a month ago, which were the lowest in five years.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans stepped up spending at retail businesses in May at the best pace in three months. The Commerce Department says retail sales increased 0.6 percent in May from April. Excluding the volatile categories of autos, gas and building supplies, core retail sales rose 0.3 percent, slightly higher than the 0.2 percent April increase.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A mixed report on business inventories suggests economic growth could be slowing. The Commerce Department says businesses increased their stockpiles by three-tenths of a percent in April, but their sales fell for a second straight month. Sales slipped 0.1 percent in April following a sharp 1.2 percent drop in March. It marked the first back-to-back sales declines in nearly a year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Concerns that the Federal Reserve will scale back its bond purchases have pushed mortgage rates higher for the sixth week in a row. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year fixed loan increased to 3.98 percent this week. That's up from 3.91 percent last week and the highest since April 2012. The rate on the 15-year loan advanced to 3.10 percent from 3.03 percent, also the highest since April 2012.

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