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New York City (AFP) – U.S. stocks Wednesday opened higher after October retail sales bested expectations on a busy day of economic news.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 17.75 (0.11 percent) to 15,984.78.

The broad-based S&P 500 tacked on 3.72 (0.21 percent) at 1,791.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 13.87 (0.35 percent) to 3,945.43.

Americans spent 0.4 percent more on retail and food services last month, the Commerce Department reported.

The report had been forecast to show an increase of just 0.1 percent, and suggested U.S. consumers had not been as worried as expected during the tense Washington budget standoff that partially shuttered the U.S. government for more than two weeks last month.

Wednesday’s economic calendar also includes a release of existing home sales and minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting.

AFP Photo/Andrew Burton

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and former President Donald Trump.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

In the professional stratum of politics, few verities are treated with more reverence than the outcome of next year's midterm, when the Republican Party is deemed certain to recapture majorities in the House and Senate. With weary wisdom, any pol or pundit will cite the long string of elections that buttress this prediction.

Political history also tells us that many factors can influence an electoral result, including a national crisis or a change in economic conditions — in other words, things can change and even midterm elections are not entirely foretold. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, too.

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