Jul 24, 9:44 AM EDT

US stocks open higher as investors gauge earnings

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. stock market is opening slightly higher as several big companies across industries report second-quarter earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose two points, or 0.02 percent, to 17,089 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index also added two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,988. The Nasdaq advanced 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,484.

Facebook rose 7.4 percent after beating expectations for earnings. The world's largest social media company said late Wednesday that it earned $788 million in the April-June period.

Ford's stock advanced 1.5 percent. It reported second-quarter earnings early Thursday that climbed 6 percent on gains in Europe.

The Labor Department said weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped to a seasonally adjusted 284,000. That's the lowest reading since February 2006.

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