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NEW YORK (AP) Stocks indexes are edging higher as investors become more optimistic about the outlook for the U.S. economy.

Traders are looking ahead to the government's monthly survey of the job market. They hope to see more signs that the economy is picking up after an unusually cold winter.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,893 in the first few minutes of trading Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,596. The Nasdaq composite rose seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,283.

Barnes & Noble plunged 10 percent after Liberty Media, the huge media company controlled by billionaire investor John Malone, said it was selling most of its stake in the company.