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Economic data on U.S., China boost stocks

Economic data on U.S., China boost stocks

Stocks got off to a good start Thursday and held onto their gains, carving out a modest increase for the second day in a row.

Amid a relatively slow week of trading, thin on major economic news and leading into the Memorial Day weekend, investors drew encouragement from a mixed bag of economic and housing data. Improving earnings from Dollar Tree, Best Buy and other retailers also helped lift the market.

Major indexes were already pointing to a slight uptick ahead of the start of regular trading after a survey from HSBC suggested the slowdown in China's economy is flattening. May's reading on China's manufacturing sector was the best in five months.

After the market...

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