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Thursday brought another day of mixed economic news. Weakness in the construction and manufacturing sectors held back optimism over another week of relatively low unemployment claims, and consumer spending and income both came in below expectations.
But the stock market didn't let anything dampen its enthusiasm, as a gentle rally reversed much of yesterday's losses. At around 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were up 37 points to 12,989. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) was also higher, rising five points to 1,371.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) wasn't a big mover in the Dow this morning, but it had exciting news. The retailer said that it would increase its dividend to $1.59 per share for the year, a jump of almost 9%. While that is a much slower pace than the 20%+ dividend increase Wal-Mart made last year, it nevertheless reflects enthusiasm about its business prospects.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rose 1.4% despite once again venturing into territory that created huge controversy last year. The Wall Street Journal reported that B of A is looking into raising fees on basic checking accounts to induce customers to use online banking services or conduct more profitable business with the bank. Pilot programs in several states are charging anywhere from $6 to $25 monthly for certain accounts, but with the ability to avoid those fees by using other B of A services.
Finally, DuPont (NYSE: DD ) rose more than 1%. The chemical giant said that it would increase prices on its titanium dioxide products for sale in the Asia-Pacific region by $200 per metric ton next month. Price increases for the pigment have driven sales growth at a number of chemical companies recently, and if the trend continues, DuPont should benefit from plans to increase capacity within the next two to three years.
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