Stocks push higher after rough week

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks are edging higher in early trading Friday. But major indexes are still poised to end their worst week since September.

Worries about Europe’s debt crisis flared up again Friday after Italy was forced to pay 7.8 percent to borrow for two years at a debt auction. It’s another sign that investors are growing increasingly hesitant to lend to Europe’s third-largest economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 84 points, or 0.8 percent, to 11,337 as of 10 a.m. Eastern. Bank of America Corp led the way, up 2.9 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co rose 2.6 percent.

The Dow remains down 3.7 percent for the week, putting the average on track for its worst week since late September.

The S&P 500 index is up 8 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,170. The Nasdaq composite index rose 13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,473.

The euro slipped to $1.32 and is now down 2 percent this week against the dollar. The drop puts the euro at its lowest level since Oct. 6.

Higher interest rates on government debt backed by Italy, Spain and other European countries have rattled stock markets in recent weeks. When borrowing costs climb above the 7 percent threshold, it deepens fears about a government’s ability to manage its debts. Greece, Ireland and Portugal were forced to seek financial lifelines when their interest rates crossed the same mark.

Markets have been battered this week as governments in Europe and the U.S. struggle to tackle their debts. The Dow lost 248 points on Monday as a Congressional committee failed to reach a deal to cut federal budget deficits. It plunged another 236 points Wednesday after investors balked at buying German government debt.

In morning trading, AT&T’s stock was up half of 1 percent. The company said Thursday that it’s budgeting to pay $4 billion in break-up fees if its attempted $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom falls apart.

The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday shopping season and is busiest day of the year for retailers. A record number of people are expected to show up at stores this weekend to take advantage of deep discounts. The National Retail Federation estimates that 152 million people will go shopping over the three days starting on Friday. That would be an increase of 10 percent from last year.

Trading will end at 1 p.m. Eastern time. U.S. markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.