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Strong retail sales push US stocks higher
US stocks rise after March retail sales number comes in stronger than analysts were expecting
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' Stocks are rising after the government reported a surprisingly strong increase in retail sales last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 115 points to 12,965 in the opening minutes of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 is up 8 points to 1,379. The Nasdaq composite is up 13 points to 3,024.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March, signaling that not even skyrocketing gas prices could put a damper on the mood of the American consumer. Retail sales hit a record high of $411.1 billion, 24 percent higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.

Also, Citigroup is reporting a profit of $2.9 billion. While short of many analysts' expectations, the bank noted that more customers are repaying their loans on time.

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