Stocks Inch Higher In Early Trading On Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks are notching small gains in early trading after the U.S. government reported that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level since late November.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points to 14,595 shortly after the opening bell Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up four points at 1,557. The Nasdaq composite was up two points at 3,220.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week by 28,000, the third straight increase. The department says the numbers may have been affected by the timing of the Easter holiday.

The Japanese yen fell sharply against the dollar after that country's central bank announced an economic stimulus plan that will greatly expand the country's money supply.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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