Tech Sector Helps Fuel Wall Street's Opening Rise

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock indexes opened mostly higher Thursday after two days of losses, with maneuvering by Yahoo Inc. viewed as putting more heat on Microsoft Corp. to hike its buyout bid for the Internet search firm.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 13.6 points in opening trades to 12,540.86.

The S&P 500 was off 0.41 points to 1,354.08, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 9 points to 2,331.12.

Stocks rose despite futures falling earlier on economic data, which had the U.S. trade deficit widening sharply and weekly jobless claims falling 53,000 to 357,000 last week.

U.S. stocks Wednesday saw their worst single day in two weeks after oil, gasoline and corn hit records and UPS cut its earnings outlook.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, oil futures fell 15 cents early Thursday to $110.72, while gold futures advanced $3.5 to $937.1.

Heading into Thursday's session, the Bank of England cut interest rates by a quarter-point to 5%, citing "disruption in financial markets." The European Central Bank kept rates steady at 4%, while the central bank of Iceland -- known for having one of the highest interest rates in the developed world -- hiked rates by a half-point.

The dollar dropped sharply against rivals, notably the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan. The greenback fell below the 7 yuan level for the first time ever.

Retailers are releasing same-store sales figures for March, with reports so far generally producing worse-than-forecast results, with Limited Brands Inc. , Wet Seal Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California among the disappointments.

Discount retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. proved an exception, with it shares offering an early rise after it lifted its view on first-quarter earnings and reported a 0.7% same-store sales rise.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. fell after it projecting first-quarter earnings per share may be as much as 32% below forecasts.

By Kate Gibson