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Stocks edge higher on Eurozone, U.S. economic reports

Stocks edged higher in early trading as Germany’s chancellor reportedly voiced support for easing bailout terms for Greece and further action by the European Central Bank to help solve the Eurozone’s debt crisis.

Investors also received two upbeat U.S. economic reports shortly after the opening bell.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 15 points, or 0.1%, to 13,265 in early trading on Wall Street. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up a point, or 0.1%, to 1,416. The Nasdaq was up 3 points, or 0.1%, to 3,065.

Bloomberg News cited two German lawmakers saying Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering loosening Greece’s bailout terms. The Reuters news service reported Merkel voiced support for the European Central Bank’s plans to buy bonds of Eurozone countries struggling with their debts.

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Consumer sentiment has risen this month, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. August’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 73.6 from 72.3 in July, higher than economists had predicted, according to Reuters.

The Conference Board said its Leading Economic Index increased 0.4% in July to 95.8, after a 0.4% decline in June.

“The indicators point to slow growth through the end of 2012,” Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “Lack of domestic demand remains a big issue. However, back-to-school sales are better than expected, suggesting that the consumer is starting to come back.”

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