WS Opens Higher On Retail Sales Cheer; Dow Up 160 Points -- U.S. stock markets opened higher on Friday, lifted by a much stronger-than-expected report for retail sales in September that reassured market participants that consumer spending, the motor of the economy, is still holding up despite sustained high levels of layoffs and unemployment.

By 9:40 AM ET (1340 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 160 points, or 0.6%, at 28,654 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.6%.

Earlier, the Commerce Department said that core retail rales rose by 1.5% in September from August, three times the 0.5% increase forecast ahead of time. The numbers outweighed a less positive update from U.S. factories industrial production fell by 0.6% in the month, rather than the 0.5% increase expected. While much of that was due to a bigger-than-usual drop in utility output of power as summer demand for air-conditioning tapered off, capacity utilization and manufacturing output also dropped.

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