Mild economic data and strong retail sales lifted stocks Thursday and helped investors overcome concerns about the Federal Reserve's expected decision on interest rate hikes next week, the Associated Press reports.

With the nation's retailers reporting a generally positive July, typically a slow month for sales, investors were reassured about the strength of consumer spending. In addition, the Institute for Supply Management's services index came in below expectations, evidence that economic growth is moderating.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.66, or 0.38 percent, to 11,242.59. Broader stock indicators also moved higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1.72, or 0.13 percent, to 1,280.27, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 13.53, or 0.65 percent, to 2,092.34.

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