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Wall Street closes week with solid gain

Wall Street closed Friday with a solid gain, but down for the week, as the energy and basic materials sectors improved and Dow components Exxon Mobil Corp. and Intel Corp. climbed on upgrades.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Wall Street closed Friday with a solid gain as oil prices fell sharply and analysts upgraded Dow components Exxon Mobil Corp. and Intel Corp. climbed on upgrades. For the week, major indexes fell.

Volume was heavy Friday as options expired, but advances were limited as investors eyed America’s current account deficit. The trade deficit dipped slightly in the latest quarter but still was at the second-highest level in history and on track to surpass last year’s record $668.1 billion.

Gains also capped by the University of Michigan’s mid-month report on consumer sentiment for September. Sentiment plunged to its lowest level in a decade, according to subscribers who saw the report, but analysts wrestled with whether consumers would really change their spending habits or were simply distraught by Hurricane Katrina.

The Dow Jones industrial average outpaced other indexes because it is more heavily weighted toward hot energy and basic materials stocks, said Ken Tower, chief market strategist for Schwab’s CyberTrader. “Neither bulls nor bears seem to be making any headway, unless you look at the Dow,” he said.

The Dow finished the day up 83.19 points, or 0.8 percent, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 10.18 points, or 0.8 percent, and the technology-rich Nasdaq composite index added 14.20 points, or 0.7 percent.

Bonds slid, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.26 percent from 4.22 percent late Thursday. The U.S. dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices rose to a 17-year high.

Crude oil fell $1.75 to close at $63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The market spent much of the week waiting for the Federal Reserve, which is expected to hike short-term interest rates again next week. Economic data tended to be downbeat, but not enough to trigger a big sell-off. The Dow and S&P each dropped 0.3 percent for the week, while Nasdaq lost 0.7 percent.

Intel rose 26 cents Friday to $24.81; Exxon Mobil rose $1.24 to $63.70. Fellow Dow component DuPont Co. was up 41 cents to $40.51 as oil prices dropped.

Progressive Corp. rose $4.17 to $102.02 after the country’s third-largest auto insurer said monthly earnings dropped 43 percent in August. The company set aside $119.5 million in reserves for claims from Hurricane Katrina.

American Express Co. rose $1.90 to $59.46 after a court approved its $350 million in financing to Delta Air Lines Inc. as the carrier moves through bankruptcy proceedings, according to Dow Jones. Delta rose 10 cents to 85 cents a share.

DaimlerChrysler AG rose $1.51 to $51.68 after it agreed to buy out minority shareholders in a German diesel-engine maker it owns, clearing the way to sell the business. DaimlerChrysler, which is selling off almost everything outside its core vehicle business, said it was in talks with several potential buyers.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.2 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 1.6 percent and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.7 percent.