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Stocks Finish Higher; Nasdaq Back Above 3000

Capital Economics estimates fourth-quarter GDP growth is now likely to come in a little below 2%.

Overseas markets were stronger Thursday amid optimism on U.S. budgetary negotiations. The FTSE 100 in London rose 1.15%, while the DAX in Germany bumped up 0.78%. Japan's Nikkei average and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index each closed up by 1%.

The Asian markets also got a lift as Japan's main opposition leader Shinzo Abe, who is tipped to become the next prime minister, continued to call for more aggressive monetary policy easing. Abe has held the prime minister post before, when his first stint lasted from Sept. 2006 to Sept. 2007.

Gold for February delivery rose $10.70 to settle at $1,729.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts increased $1.58 to close at $88.07 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury climbed 3/32 to lower the yield to 1.622%. The dollar was off 0.13%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Tiffany & Co. (TIF), the upscale jewelry retailer, posted disappointing third-quarter results and cut full-year profit expectations as the company was challenged by continued high precious metal and diamond costs, economic weakness and a higher-than-expected tax rate. Shares tumbled 6.2%.

Grocer Kroger (KR) raised its fiscal 2012 adjusted earnings per share guidance after posting better-than-expected third-quarter results as identical supermarket sales growth, without fuel, came in at 3.2% in the quarter. The stock rose 4.8%.

Barnes & Noble (BKS), the book seller, posted a second-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, including the impact of its dividend on redeemable preferred shares, on revenue of $1.9 billion; analysts, on average, predicted a quarterly loss of 11 cents a share on revenue of $1.91 billion. The stock fell 11.2%.
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