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US: Stocks open higher on solid retail sales report

US stocks fell in opening trade Monday, kicking off a week that includes earnings from Wal-Mart Stores and the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rose modestly Thursday after a report showing solid US retail sales in July spurred speculation that the Federal Reserve could soon hike interest rates.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,409.39, up 6.88 points (0.04 percent).

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 1.20 (0.06 percent) to 2,087.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.67 (0.35 percent) to 5,062.06.

Overall US retail sales rose 0.6 percent in July from June to US$446.5 billion, a slightly bigger increase than the 0.5 percent gain projected by analysts, according to the Commerce Department.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the report was "significantly stronger than expected" and that it "bolsters the case for a September rate hike, at the margin."