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US stocks rise in early trading, buck global slump

By BERNARD CONDON

AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are edging higher in late morning trading Friday as investors weighed productivity gains against escalating geopolitical troubles in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq. U.S. fighters dropped bombs on Islamic militants in Iraq a day after President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes to protect U.S. civilians there and Iraqi refugees. Investors bought up the U.S. 10-year Treasury notes, a refuge in troubled times.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,919 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial was up 72 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,440. The Nasdaq composite rose 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,349.

GEOPOLITICAL JITTERS: U.S. fighter planes dropped laser-guided 500-pound bombs on an Islamic State artillery device and the truck towing it, according to a military spokesman. The move follows President Obama's authorization on Thursday of airdrops of humanitarian aid and airstrikes to counter advancing Sunni radical militants.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Ukraine and on Gaza, where a three-day cease-fire came to an end. In addition, the World Health Organization on Friday declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

BOND BUYING: Investors sought safety in U.S. Treasurys, driving the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to its lowest level since June 2013. The yield fell to 2.37 percent from 2.41 percent late Thursday.

PRODUCTIVITY GAIN: U.S. workers were more productive in the April-June quarter and labor costs rose slightly, a sharp turnaround from grim first-quarter figures. The Labor Department said Friday that that productivity increased 2.5 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, after plummeting 4.5 percent in the first quarter.

EUROPEAN STOCKS: Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares dropped 0.5 percent. France's CAC-40 was flat.

All those indexes look set to close down for the week. The three major U.S. indexes are also set to post weekly losses.

THE QUOTE: "A red end to another red week looks firmly entrenched for equities," said Will Hedden, premium client manager at IG. "The weekend will feel like a long time for potential bad news to fester after many geopolitical events have come to a head all at the same time."

LULU SURGES: Shares of Lululemon Athletica rose $1.11, or 2.8 percent, to $40.14. The company founder, Dennis "Chip" Wilson, has agreed to sell half his stake in the company as part of a truce to avert a potentially messy battle for control of the retailer of yoga apparel and other exercise gear.

JAPAN TUMBLE: In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 slid 3 percent to 14,778 as the yen strengthened. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.3 percent to 2,194.42.

COMMODITIES: Crude oil rose 29 cents to $97.63 a barrel. Gold rose 0.1 percent at $1,313 an ounce.

___

Pan Pylas contributed from London.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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