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Top News & Analysis United States

  • NEW YORK-- Stocks are opening mostly higher on Wall Street following an encouraging report on the labor market and better sales from retail chains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 35 points to 13,530 shortly after the opening bell Thursday.

  • SEATTLE-- Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday that sales in stores open at least one year rose 4.4 percent in September, slightly below analysts' expectations. Nordstrom said it was also competing against strong figures from September 2011 _ a 10.7 percent jump in same-store sales _ when the company offered free shipping and free returns for online purchases.

  • Oct 4- Diagnostic device maker Hologic Inc. said a U.S. district judge found that medical technology company Becton Dickinson& Co infringed on four patents owned by Hologic's unit Gen-Probe.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 4- Exchange-traded funds are waging a price war that may save investors money on fees, but cheaper fund choices pose a greater risk because they may rely on new, more-opaque indexes.

  • JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Discount retailer Stein Mart Inc. said on Thursday said that a key sales figure rose 2.4 percent in September, hurt in part by stores closing in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. Stein Mart operated 262 stores at the end of September, one more than it had a year earlier. Its shares rose 5 cents to $8.65 in morning trading.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 4- U.S. natural gas futures edged higher early on Thursday, resuming a recent run up that brought the nearby contract to its highest mark this year. As of 9:26 a.m. EDT, front-month November natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange. were at $3.426 per mmBtu, up 3.1 cents, or about 1 percent.

  • Conditions worsened, though, in Kansas and Iowa, the nation's biggest corn producer, and nearly 98 percent of Nebraska was still deemed to be in one of the two worst categories. According to the map, which is put out by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, 75 percent of Iowa is enduring extreme or exceptional drought.

  • FRAMINGHAM, Mass.-- The owner of the TJ Maxx and Marshalls clothing store chains said Thursday that revenue in shops open at least a year rose 6 percent in September, beating Wall Street predictions. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of 4.5 percent for TJX Cos.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 4- U.S. stocks rose at the open on Thursday after labor market data came in within expectations and following encouraging comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on tools to tackle the region's debt crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40.66 points, or 0.30 percent, to 13,535.27.

  • CHICAGO-- The final case to stem from the corruption investigation into imprisoned former Illinois Gov. William Cellini, 77, was convicted last year for his role in trying to get a $1.5 million campaign contribution for Blagojevich from the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" in exchange for state business.

  • Oct 4- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it has cracked down on thousands of online pharmacies for selling potentially unsafe, unapproved or fake pharmaceuticals, including the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and antiviral Tamiflu.

  • "A guy like Romney should excite me," said Becker, 30, a Republican who manages real estate investments in Fairfield, a charming shoreline town on Connecticut's affluent "gold coast." That was before the 90- minute head-to-head matchup between Romney and President Barack Obama in Denver, their first of three debates before Election Day.

  • LOS ANGELES-- Clothing maker American Apparel Inc. said Thursday a key sales figure rose 15 percent in September, helped by online sales and fewer discounts.

  • Oct 4- Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk dismissed fears the electric carmaker was in financial trouble and said it was making an advance payment on the federal loan used to make its Model S sedan.

  • CHICAGO-- Members of the Chicago Teachers Union overwhelmingly have approved a new three-year contract that includes pay increases and a new evaluation system, union officials announced late Wednesday.

  • U.S. stock index futures added to gains after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said growth risks are on the downside and should be contained by effective policymaker action. Brokerages Canaccord Genuity, Robert W. Baird& Co, Mizuho Securities USA, BMO Capital Markets and ThinkEquity Llc cut their price targets on the stock.

  • CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Cato Corp., a women's clothing store, said on Thursday that a key measure of September revenue fell 4 percent, and it said its third-quarter earnings will be at the low end of its guidance.

  • WASHINGTON-- President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney spun one-sided stories in their first presidential debate, not necessarily bogus, but not the whole truth.

  • *Sales at Costco and Gap top expectations. *Macy's, Target, Kohl's sales miss analysts' forecasts. "I think September overall is going to be OK; I don't think it's going to be great," said John Rooney, national retail& distribution sector lead for Deloitte Consulting.

  • NEW YORK-- "American Idol" season 12 tapings are just getting under way and Keith Urban has already become more than just a judge: he's also the pacifier on the newly-minted panel. "We're all passionate people and we're learning a new dance and we're all a work in progress," said Urban Wednesday at the New York Film Festival gala honoring his wife, Nicole Kidman.