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Stocks move higher...Retail sales, business inventories suggest mood remains cautious

Wednesday - 2/13/2013, 11:30am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are edging higher in early trading on Wall Street. Traders are evaluating the latest earnings news, General Electric's sale of its remaining NBC Universal stake and reports on retail sales and business inventories.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans didn't do much spending at retail businesses and restaurants last month, after higher taxes cut their paychecks. The Commerce Department says retail sales were up just one-tenth of a percent in January from December, the smallest increase in three months. Sales fell at auto dealerships, clothing stores and furniture stores. They rose at home-improvement stores, gas stations and online retailers.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. companies continue to be cautious when restocking store shelves and warehouses. The Commerce Department says business inventories ticked up a tenth of a percent in December from November, the smallest increase since last June. Total sales for wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers increased only 0.3 percent, down from a 0.9 percent clip in November. Slower restocking was a drag on the economy in the final three months of last year.

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union and the United States are pursuing talks aimed at achieving the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated. Any agreement could boost the EU's economic output by half a percent at a time when the 27-country EU and the U.S. are struggling with slow growth, high unemployment and high levels of debt. The agreement to pursue a deal was announced in last night's State of the Union address by President Barack Obama.

DETROIT (AP) -- J.D. Power and Associates says vehicles are more dependable than ever. It says problems reported in the past year by owners of three-year-old vehicles fell 5 percent to the lowest level since the consulting company began collecting the data in 1989. Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln and Toyota owners reported the fewest problems, while Jeep, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Land Rover owners had the most.

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