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Another market surge sets records

NEW YORK – Wall Street ended an extraordinary and record-setting week Friday by surging higher again, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index past a trading high set in March 2000 and thrusting the Dow Jones industrial past 13,900 for the first time.

Both the S&P and the Dow logged record closes for the second straight day and the Dow’s gains put the blue chip index within about 70 points of 14,000. But the technology-laden Nasdaq composite index lagged both in Friday’s session as it has in the broader recovery from the dot-com collapse at the start of the decade.

In a week that saw the Dow swing more than 450 points and rise 283 points in Thursday’s session alone, investors grappled with unease over soured subprime loans and the broader economy before casting off such concerns and bidding stocks higher amid signs the consumer might yet again pull through and give Wall Street reason to climb higher.

On Friday, investors still seemed upbeat about earnings and takeover activity and appeared only slightly disappointed by the Commerce Department’s report that retail sales dropped 0.9 percent last month, following a revised 1.5 percent jump in May. The June figure was weaker than anticipated and marked the steepest decline in nearly two years.

“I think investors are overstating their moves on a day-to-day basis but over the long term we continue to trend upward,” said Brian Levitt, corporate economist at OppenheimerFunds Inc. “I think that is reasonable given the strong global quality picture and the strong global growth picture.”

The Dow rose 45.52, or 0.33 percent, to 13,907.25 after reaching a new trading high of 13,932.29.

Relief that Alcoa won’t pursue a deal with Alcan Inc. helped the Dow Friday, as did solid quarterly results from GE, which sent the conglomerate’s stock above the $40 mark and to a five-year high.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.80, or 0.31 percent, to 1,552.50. The index late in Friday’s session set a fresh trading high of 1,555.10, topping a previous record of 1,553.11 set in March 2000.

The Nasdaq composite index gained 5.27, or 0.20 percent, to 2,707.00 after spending much of the session moderately lower. Though the Nasdaq was trading at levels not seen since early 2001, the index remains well short of its closing record of 5,048.62, set in March 2000 when it was bloated by the late 1990s tech boom.

On Friday, an upbeat report on the mood of consumers released after trading began seemed to inject the market with additional confidence. The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment increased to 92.4 for mid-July from 85.3 in June.


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