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US stocks gained on Thursday

By Staff
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NEW YORK, May 4: US stocks gained on Thursday as monthly retail sales reports showed consumers were able to shrug off surging gasoline prices and keep up their robust spending habits.

Strong earnings reports from companies including Tyco International Ltd., Whole Foods Market Inc. and Expeditors International of Washington Inc. also cheered investors.

Warehouse club retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. beat Wall Street's forecasts of April same-store sales as warm weather drove demand for spring merchandise. For details, see ID:nN04183732 ''Retailers are likely to be active, with April same-store sales looking fairly positive for most,'' said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with New York brokerage Spencer Clarke.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 45.30 points, or 0.40 percent, at 11,445.58, a fresh six-year high. The Standard&Poor's 500 Index was up 4.39 points, or 0.34 percent, at 1,312.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.42 points, or 0.50 percent, at 2,315.39.

Costco's stock was up 1.3 percent to .66 on Nasdaq.

Clothing retailer Talbots Inc. said on Thursday sales at its stores open at least a year beat their forecasts. Talbots shares rose 6.5 percent to .06 on the NYSE.

Expeditors led gains on the Nasdaq after the logistics company said late on Wednesday its quarterly profit rose 70 percent and it raised its semi-annual dividend by 46 percent. ID:nWEN6727.

Shares of Expeditors shot up 12 percent to .04 on the Whole Foods Market, the No. 1 U.S. natural foods retailer, lifted its 2006 sales outlook after posting strong quarterly profit.

Shares of Whole Foods were up 9.1 percent to .75, giving both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 one of their biggest boosts.

Before the market opened, a report showed a tronger-than- expected rise in labor costs in the first quarter, raising concern about inflation and the need for the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates.

Unit labor costs rose 2.5 percent in the first quarter on an annual basis, the Labor Department said, compared with analysts' expectations for a 1.3 percent increase.

Oil prices fell on Thursday, adding to Wednesday's losses, as increasing petroleum inventories eased worries over supply. U.S.

crude for June delivery fell 83 cents to .45 per barrel overnight.

REUTERS

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