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US stocks higher at midday

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November 19, 2012 11:48 AM EST | AP

NEW YORK — Stocks are sharply higher at midday on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 154 points at 12,743. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 20 at 1,380. And the Nasdaq composite index is up 44 points at 2,897.

Some investors are expressing optimism about a deal in Washington to avoid the tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1. Investors are also encouraged by earnings reports from Lowe's and Tyson Foods.

Energy stocks are among the best performers in the market. The price of crude oil is up more than $2 a barrel, partly because of the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.