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Stocks near records after US economy accelerates

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STEVE ROTHWELL | November 7, 2013 10:31 AM EST | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks held near record highs in early trading Thursday as excitement built over Twitter's stock debut and growth accelerated in the U.S. economy.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.8 percent from July through September, rising from a 2.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter. The growth was nearly a full percentage point stronger than most economists predicted.

Investors waited for Twitter's stock debut, the most anticipated initial public offering since Facebook's last year. The online messaging service priced its stock at $26 a share, valuing the company at more than $18 billion.

European stock markets rose after Europe's central bank cut its benchmark lending rate to a record low of 0.25 percent from 0.5 percent.

U.S. stocks are trading at record levels as global central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, continue their unprecedented stimulus efforts to revive economic growth. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion of bonds every month to keep long-term interest rates low.

The Dow Jones industrial average eased eight points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,738 as of 10:23 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell six points to 1,763. The Nasdaq composite edged down 37 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,895.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.62 percent from 2.64 percent a day earlier.

In commodities trading, oil fell 92 cents to $93.88 a barrel. The price of gold dropped $5.10 to $1,312 an ounce.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— J.C. Penney rose 45 cents, or 6 percent, to $8.15. The company said that a key sales barometer rose in October for the first time in nearly two years. The company's stock is still down 60 percent this year.

— Whole Foods Market plunged $6.51, or 10 percent, to $57.95 after the company cut its outlook for sales growth and earnings for its next fiscal year.

— Qualcomm fell $2.24, or 3.2 percent, to $67.50 after the chip maker's earnings fell short of Wall Street's forecast.