US stocks open higher ahead of economic data

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average is pushing closer to 13,000 at the opening of trading, and other stock indexes are opening higher ahead of reports on new home sales and consumer sentiment. Both reports are expected to show signs of an economy slowly gaining strength.

The Dow is up 6 points to 12,991. Procter & Gamble is the average’s leading stock in early trading, rising less than 1 percent.

Later this morning, the Commerce Department will report new home sales for January. Analysts forecast that sales rose to 315,000.

In other trading, the S&P 500 index added 2 points to 1,365.

The Nasdaq composite index is up 5 points to 2,962.

Also on tap Friday is the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, which has been rising in recent months as the job market has improved.