On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Justin Lane )
Stocks edged higher in early trading Thursday after a sharp sell-off in the wake of President Obama's reelection.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 28 points, or 0.2%, to 12,961 shortly after the opening bell. The Dow dropped more than 300 points Wednesday.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1,398. The Nasdaq was up 9 points, or 0.3%, to 2,946.
Investors digested better-than-expected economic data Thursday that show declines in weekly jobless claims and the U.S. trade deficit.
In Europe, the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged. Spain, one of the most deeply indebted countries in the Eurozone, reportedly held a successful bond auction.
Worries out of Europe helped fuel a broad sell-off Wednesday in the first trading session since election day. Investors hammered stocks, particularly those in sectors that could face lower government spending (defense) or increased regulation (banking) in Obama's second term.
Chief among investors' concerns now is the so-called fiscal cliff, the automatic spending cuts and tax increases looming at the end of the year that, if left in place, could push the U.S. back into recession.
Wall Street fears continued gridlock in Washington with Obama in the White House and a strong Republican majority in control of the House.
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