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U.S. stocks edge higher ahead of Facebook IPO

In May 7 2012 photrader John Bishop works floor New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street looks set for higher opening

In a May 7, 2012 photo, trader John Bishop works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street looks set for a higher opening on Friday May 18, 2012, when shares of social media giant Facebook will start trading. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Updated: May 18, 2012 10:30AM

Excitement about Facebook’s initial public offering gave U.S. stocks a small lift in morning trading on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11 points to 12,453 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up three points 1,308. The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a point to 2,813.

Facebook shares don’t start trading until 11 a.m. Eastern.

Higher stocks prices would be a relief for investors. The Dow has fallen in 11 of the past 12 trading days, including a loss of 156 points on Thursday. It’s now down 6 percent so far this month.

Europe could still hurt investor enthusiasm. Representatives of the G-8 are headed to Camp David this weekend, looking for assurances that leaders in Europe can contain damage from a potential collapse in Greece.

And after an election in Greece that brought in political parties opposed to bailouts for the beleaguered country, the Fitch ratings agency dropped the nation to the lowest possible grade for a country not in default Thursday.

Fitch said that if elections next month do not reverse the political trends in Greece, that the country’s departure from the euro “would be probable.”

Also, ratings agency Moody’s downgraded 16 Spanish banks late Thursday, three days after downgrading Italy’s, noting they are vulnerable to huge losses on government debt.

European shares were flat to down, after days of huge losses, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.9 percent. Germany’s DAX lost 0.2 percent and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.2 percent.

In the U.S., shares of jumped 11 percent after the maker of web-based business software reported better-than-expected earnings and raised its guidance for the year. Gap fell 1.6 percent despite higher guidance for the year.

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