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Jun 27, 2013 11:30 AM by Associated Press

US stocks higher on strong jobs, spending news

NEW YORK (AP) - Better news on jobs and consumer spending are pushing stocks higher in early trading.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 9,000 to 346,000 last week. It's evidence that the job market is still improving modestly, despite signs of slower growth.

Consumers spent more in May as their income increased at the fastest pace in three months. The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.3 percent last month. That made up a 0.3 percent decline in April, which was the biggest drop since the fall of 2009. The rise in spending was due in part to a 0.9 percent increase in purchases of durable goods such as autos.

The number of people who signed contracts to buy U.S. homes jumped in May to the highest level in more than six years, suggesting people are seeking to buy before mortgage rates rise further.

The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 6.7 percent to 112.3 last month. That's the highest level since December 2006.

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