Stocks pop in early trading

Investors look past reports on jobless claims, wholesale prices.

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NEW YORK ( -- Stocks gained early Thursday, bouncing off 3-month lows, as investors took abysmal readings on wholesale inflation and jobless claims in stride.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 40 points, or 0.6%, in the early going. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index added 8 points, or 1%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) added 16 points, or 1.1%.

On Wednesday, stocks finished little changed in the wake of the Federal Reserve's downward revision of its economic forecast and President Obama's $75 billion housing bailout proposal.

Asian stocks closed higher, with Japan's Nikkei index up 0.3%. European markets were higher in afternoon trading.

Economy: The government said the initial jobless claims totaled 627,000 in the week ended Feb. 14, unchanged from the prior week's revised figure.

That was more than expected. Jobless claims were expected to total 620,000 in the week ended Feb. 14, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by

In a separate report, the government said wholesale prices rose 0.8% in January, much higher than the 0.3% increase expected in a consensus of economists surveyed by Producer prices fell 1.9% in December.

The core PPI, which excludes the volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.4% in January, the government said. That was higher than the expected 0.1% increase, according to the consensus. The January increase follows a gain of 0.2% the prior month.

The Energy Information Administration releases its weekly report on U.S. crude inventories at 11 a.m. ET. Analysts polled by research firm Platts forecast a rise of 3.5 million barrels for oil and a drop of 1 million barrels for gasoline.

Reports on leading economic indicators and manufacturing in the Philadelphia area will be released during the trading day.

Companies: Late Wednesday, computer products maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), a Dow component, cut its outlook for its full fiscal year after revenue in the quarter ended Jan. 31 missed expectations. HP's per-share earnings for the quarter matched forecasts. HP shares fell nearly 8% Thursday morning.

Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) reported its fourth-quarter results, with a better-than-expected net loss of 1 cent per share. The telecom was expected to report a loss of 3 cents per share, according to a consensus of analyst forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters. Shares rose 16% in morning trading.

CVS (CVS, Fortune 500) reported adjusted earnings of 70 cents per share, which was better than the expected 69 cents per share Thomson Reuters consensus. Shares gained 7%.

Oil and money: Oil rose $1.75 to $36.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The dollar was mixed against major international currencies, rising against the yen, but falling versus the euro and the British pound. To top of page

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