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Stocks rise on economic reports

In this Feb. 1 2011 photraders gather post floor New York Stock Exchange Tuesday Feb. 1 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In this Feb. 1, 2011 photo, traders gather at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Updated: February 3, 2011 3:40PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are finishing with small gains after stronger-than-expected economic news and a jump in January retail sales.

Consumer discretionary companies in the S&P 500 index gained 1.2 percent after chains reported sales nearly double what analysts forecast. Costco Wholesale and Gap Inc. each gained more than 4 percent.

The Labor Department said that fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

At the market close, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,062. The S&P 500 index is up 3, or 0.2 percent, to 1,307. The Nasdaq composite is up 4, or 0.2 percent, to 2,753.

Rising and falling shares were even on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1 billion shares.

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