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US stocks open higher

New York - US stocks Tuesday opened higher, lifted by earnings from drug makers Pfizer and Merck that topped Wall Street estimates.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 23.72 points (0.14 percent) to 17,006.31.

The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet. Credit: REUTERS

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.64 (0.13 percent) to 1,981.55, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 10.49 (0.24

percent) to 4,455.40.

Dow member Pfizer said a 16 percent rise in global oncology revenues helped blunt the hit from patent expirations of some blockbuster drugs.

Adjusted earnings translated into 58 cents per share, a penny above analyst expectations.

Pfizer shares rose 1.0 percent.

Fellow drugmaker Merck, also in the Dow, gained 1.4 percent after earnings of 85 cents per share bested expectations by four cents.

Better sales of diabetes medication Januvia/Janumet, anti-cholesterol drug Zetia/Vytorin and other medicines helped offset the effect of patent expirations.

But UPS fell 3.0 percent as the delivery company said full-year earnings would be $4.90-5.00 per share, down from the April forecast of $5.05-$5.30 per share.

The company said it was raising its expenses to boost capacity the day after Thanksgiving and through the peak holiday season.

Investors are looking ahead to Wednesday's estimate of US economic growth in the second quarter and Friday's July labor market report. - Sapa-AFP

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