RTTNews - Stocks have moved to the upside in early trading on Thursday, with the major averages climbing into positive territory after ending the previous session moderately lower. The initial strength is partly due to a positive reaction to the latest economic data.

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department released a report showing a notable increase in retail sales, although the sales growth was largely due to higher gas prices. The Labor Department also reported a bigger than expected drop in weekly jobless claims.

Biotechnology stocks are turning in some of the best performances, with Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) leading the way higher on some positive test results. Tobacco, railroad, and pharmaceutical stocks are also seeing early strength.

On the other hand, considerable weakness has emerged among gold, housing, and health insurance stocks, helping to limit the upside for the markets.

In the past few minutes, the major averages have pulled back off their highs for the young session, although they remain in positive territory. The Dow is currently up 40.59 at 8,779.61, the Nasdaq is up 5.17 at 1,858.25 and the S&P 500 is up 3.08 at 942.23.

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