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US stocks edge higher following 2 days of losses

By BERNARD CONDON

AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks edged higher in early afternoon trading Wednesday following two days of losses. Worries over the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike and economic weakness in China kept trading subdued.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,065 as of 1:23 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose six points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,994. The Nasdaq composite was up 29 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,581.

DOUGHNUT DOLDRUMS: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts fell 89 cents, or 5 percent, to $16.72 after its second-quarter earnings that fell short of expectations.

SECURITY STOCK SURGE: Palo Alto Networks rose $9.20, or 10 percent, to $98.48 after the security-software maker forecast healthier revenue in its first quarter.

APPLE A DAY: A day after Apple's announced it a new smartwatch, a bigger iPhone and a new mobile-payment system, shares rose almost 3 percent.

EBay fell $1.50, or 3 percent, to $51.23 over fears its PayPal division will lose business to Apple's payment system. But GPS device maker Garmin reversed big losses from Tuesday with a gain of 3 percent, the biggest rise in the S&P 500, as investors seemed to dismiss the threat from the Apple's smartwatch.

Apple rose $2.72 to $100.71.

THE FED: Investors are questioning whether the U.S. Federal Reserve might raise its benchmark interest rate earlier than many had expected. In a paper this week, two San Francisco Fed economists said the public appears to expect a "more accommodative" policy than Fed board members do. Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities, says he expects many investors now expect the Fed to bump up rates early next year, rather than over the summer.

The Fed meets next week to discuss possible changes to its monetary policy.

THE QUOTE: "The market is betting that the Fed won't be overly accommodative," says Ricchiuto. "The worst things for stocks would be the Fed to raise rates sooner rather than later."

CHINA'S STRUGGLE: Investors are keeping an eye on China amid signs of slumping economic growth there. Manufacturing growth slowed in August and imports unexpectedly shrank by 2.4 percent.

ENERGY LOSES STEAM: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.01, or 1 percent, to $91.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and shares of some big oil companies fell sharply. With China slowing and the eurozone possibly slipping into a third recession since the financial crisis, demand for oil remains weak while supply is ample.

Chevron Corp. fell $1.83, or 1.5 percent, to $123.35.

BONDS: The price of the 10-year Treasury note fell. The yield rose to 2.53 percent from 2.50 percent on Tuesday.

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

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