Stocks get lift from earnings, retail sales

Better-than-expected earnings reports and a rise in monthly retails sales for the first time in more than a year pushed stocks higher Thursday.

Aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) helped set the tone when it reported a surprise quarterly profit after Wednesday's closing bell. The market further enjoyed a Thursday report indicating that consumer spending just might be improving. Sales at major retailers edged up 0.1 percent in September, their first monthly gain since July 2008, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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