Stocks open modestly higher after previous day's slump

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Stocks moved slightly higher in early trading Thursday, following the previous day's downturn that stemmed from the Trump administration's latest controversy.

The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 0.36 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average 0.22 percent and the Nasdaq Composite 0.66 percent. Good corporate earnings and economics news helped edge stocks into positive territory.

This was a turnaround from Wednesday's selloff, when the S&P 500 skidded 1.8 percent, the worst slide in U.S. stocks since the November election. The market reacted to reports that President Donald Trump had tried to stop ongoing FBI investigation into links between his 2016 campaign staff and Russia. 

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) climbed 1.8 percent after topping analysts' profit estimates. Earnings per share increased to $1 from 98 cents in the same quarter a year earlier. Analysts forecasted earnings of 96 cents. 

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Health care shares also helped. Biotech firm Incyte (INCY) advanced 8.2 percent after data was released about a promising cancer immunotherapy drug, called an IDO inhibitor, it is developing. 

Also aiding in the market's upward blip was a report from the U.S. Labor Department that weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week and the number of people getting unemployment compensation plumbed a 28-and-a-half-year low. This underscored previous reports indicating U.S. employment was strong.