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Stocks close higher to continue Sept. rally

Stocks ended the week on an up note, as investors held on to their newfound optimism about the economy.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Stocks ended the week on an up note, as investors held on to their newfound optimism about the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points Friday in very light trading. It was the seventh day of gains out of the past eight sessions at the New York Stock Exchange and the S&P. Treasury prices eased as traders became more willing to take on risk.

Stocks have shaken off the doldrums of August and marched steadily higher in September thanks to a series of encouraging signals on the economy. The latest came Friday with a report that wholesale inventories shot up in July, a sign of confidence that retail sales will pick up.

"It's becoming more evident that confidence by consumers and the labor market is improving," said Tim Speiss, chairman of EisnerAmper's Personal Wealth Advisors practice. "It's tepid; It's weak; But it's progress."

The energy sector got a lift from a jump in oil prices. Oil climbed about 2 percent after a pipeline that delivers oil to Midwest refineries was shut down. Oil companies like Chevron Corp. and Schlumberger rose on the news.

The market's September rally has paused only once so far, when concerns resurfaced about European banks. European markets fluctuated Friday after a report that German banking giant Deutsche Bank is considering raising new cash through a stock sale.

Many of the recent improvements in economic indicators have been incremental, but given the deep pessimism about the economy that had set in during August even faint glimmers of hope on the job market and other parts of the economy like trade have been enough to please investors.

"There's been so much negativity that it doesn't take much in terms of data beating expectations to propel the market," said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Investments.

The Dow rose 47.53, or 0.5 percent, to close at 10,462.77.

Broader indexes also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.37, or 0.5 percent, to 1,109.55, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.28, or 0.3 percent, to 2,242.48.

About two stocks rose for every one that fell on the NYSE, where volume was extremely low at 755 million shares. Trading was light following the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Even with their recent gains, most indexes had only modest advances for the week following the downturn on Tuesday because of the worries about European banks.

The Dow closed up 0.1 percent this week, while the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent. The S&P has rallied nearly 6 percent since the end of August, a month when shares skidded as investors worried that the economy was headed back into recession.

The Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent this week. The technology heavy Nasdaq has risen for six of the last seven trading days.

The Nasdaq and S&P indexes remain lower for the year. The Dow has inched higher in the first eight-plus months of 2010.

Elsewhere Friday, bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.80 percent from 2.76 percent late Thursday. Its yield is used to help set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.

Oil rose $2.20, or 3 percent, to $76.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Chevron rose $1.46 to $78.82, while Schlumberger Ltd. rose 78 cents to $59.31.