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Economic data takes stocks higher Add to ...

Stock prices opened higher on Friday as investors digested data that pointed to tame inflation and strength in consumer spending. "The retail numbers are where the action is at," Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management, told Reuters. "With all the concerns about the consumer, and the fact a number of retailers suggested weaker sales this week, this is a big number." The blue-chip Dow industrials moved 17 points higher in the first few minutes of trading, as sentiment was helped by McDonald's Corp.'s upbeat profit outlook, which offset a downgrade of Citigroup Inc. The Toronto Stock Exchange is marking time around the unchanged line at the opening, with energy stocks not reacting to a published report that Alberta may reconsider its position on certain royalties.

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