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Stock edge higher in midday trading after a wobbly start

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were edging higher in midday trading on Wall Street Thursday, putting the market on track to extend the week's gains. Communications stocks led the decliners as Facebook fell 2 percent amid reports of a criminal investigation into its data-sharing practices.

The losses were offset partly by gains in banks and technology stocks. JPMorgan Chase and Apple rose. The market had been rallying throughout the week and reclaiming some of the momentum it had in January and February. Investors have been weighing a mixed bag of economic data while keeping a close watch on global trade issues. The markets have mostly brushed off the chaos surrounding Britain's exit the European Union, its key trading bloc.

Boeing started to level off after falling throughout the week as nations and airlines ground its newest 737s over safety concerns. A second deadly crash over the weekend involving its 737 Max 8 and safety concerns stunted the company's stock gains.

Investors are also still waiting for more details on trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Media reports had stoked hope that a summit would take place this month, but no concrete announcement has been made.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 21 points, or 0.1 percent to 25,723 as of 12:40 p.m. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq composite rose slightly. All three started the day lower and turned higher around noon.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Investors are still waiting for some more news on U.S.-China trade negotiations before they feel comfortable pushing the market much higher, said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Despite some softness over the last few weeks, the U.S. stock market is still considered a safe haven relative to the rest of the world, he said. "We're still the lead sled dogs here, we're pulling the global economy along," he said.

BAGGY FIT: Tailored Brands, which owns Men's Wearhouse, plunged 23.1 percent after giving investors a surprisingly weak first-quarter profit forecast. The company has been trying to increase sales at both Men's Wearhouse and its Jos. A. Bank stores, but is facing a tougher retail market.

DOLLAR DIP: Dollar General fell 8.4 percent after the company's fourth-quarter profit fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The discount-store operator also gave investors a weak full-year profit forecast.

OVERSHARING: Facebook fell 2 percent after the New York Times reported that its data-sharing practices are now under criminal investigation. The investigation into how it sells data is the latest in a list of privacy scandals the social media company faces. Its privacy practices have already been scrutinized by The Federal Trade Commission. The company and its CEO have also faced Congressional inquiries.

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