Stocks inch higher as investors weigh growth in US services against weak Chinese manufacturing

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – Stocks are closing slightly higher as enthusiasm about an improving U.S. service sector outweighed concerns about China.

The market started the day lower on news that manufacturing contracted in China in April for the fourth month in a row.

Indexes erased their losses in mid-morning trading after a U.S. trade group reported that service firms grew more quickly last month.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose three points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,884. Utilities stocks rose the most in the index, a sign that investors remain cautious.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,530. The Nasdaq composite rose 14 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,138.

Walgreen rose 1 per cent after the company reported revenue from established drugstores rose sharply last month.

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