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Stocks edge higher as traders return from holiday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are opening modestly higher on Wall Street as traders return from the Christmas holiday.

Trading was quiet. Markets in Europe were still closed. Traders are also watching to see if a budget agreement materializes in Washington. President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas holiday in Hawaii and was returning to Washington later Wednesday to resume budget talks with Congressional Republicans.

Shortly after the opening bell the Dow Jones industrial average was up 32 points at 13,170.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up two points at 1,428 and the Nasdaq composite was up three points at 3,015.

Japanese stocks hit a nine-month high after a new pro-business government prepared to assume leadership. Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 1.5 percent.

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