updated 10/16/2006 8:33:41 AM ET 2006-10-16T12:33:41

The Dow Jones industrial average inched to another record close Friday to mark the third straight week of triple-digit increases in the blue chip index.

Major Market Indices

The Dow spent much of a quiet session Friday in the red following a strong surge Thursday in which it broke through 11,900 for the first time to set closing and trading highs. Thursday’s advance came amid optimism over the health of corporate earnings and Friday’s gain put the Dow 12,000 benchmark within closer reach.

The index’s gain Friday marked the Dow’s sixth record close in two weeks. Stocks showed little overall movement Friday as traders were unimpressed with a profit report from General Electric Co. and after brokerages issued negative comments about Home Depot Inc. Oil prices, which have driven stocks as they have fallen in recent weeks, moved higher Friday, holding the major indexes to modest gains.

“I think more than anything today we’re sort of consolidating yesterday’s gain,” said Mike Malone, trading analyst at Cowen & Co.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12.81 points, or 0.11 percent, passing the record close of 11,947.70 set Thursday. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 2.79 points, or 0.20 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 11.11 points, or 0.47 percent.

Bonds fell, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.80 percent from 4.77 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell. Light, sweet crude settled up 82 cents at $58.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The markets were caught off guard Friday by a 0.4 percent decline in retail sales last month . The drop reported by the Commerce Department was largely due to a 9.3 percent decline in spending on gasoline. Retail spending did increase in other areas, however.

“I think this morning’s retail sales figure was actually positive once you parse out all the details,” Malone said, referring to a drop in spending on gasoline that enabled consumers to spend elsewhere. “For all the talk of the death of the consumer, that is definitely not manifesting itself.”

The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment figure for October was a stronger-than-expected 92.3. In September, the figure was 85.4.

In corporate news, GE, the conglomerate whose products range from light bulbs to turbines, reported a 6 percent increase in its third-quarter profit, matching Wall Street expectations, and turned in better-than-expected revenue. GE, which was down 24 cents at $35.98, held back the S&P 500, which is weighted by market capitalization.

Home Depot declined $1, or 2.64 percent, to $36.90 after several brokerages issued negative comments on nation’s largest home improvement chain. Home Depot, one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow, on Thursday announced plans to shake up its executive structure in a bid to improve its performance.

Furniture maker La-Z-Boy Inc. fell $1.14, or 7.6 percent, to $13.86 after the company pulled down its quarterly earnings and sales forecasts for all three of its divisions, citing a weak retail environment.

Viewpoint Corp., which provides Web search and advertising services, was down 26 cents, or 25.5 percent, to 76 cents after cutting its full-year revenue forecast amid soft ad spending and customers’ product delays.

FMS Financial Corp. rose $4.85, or 18.1 percent, to $31.60 after Beneficial Mutual Bancorp Inc. agreed to purchase the parent of Farmers and Mechanics Bank for $28 per share, or about $183.2 million in cash and stock.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed up 1.02 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.59 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.22 percent and France’s CAC-40 lost 0.15 percent.

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