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Dow approaches another trading high

Sat., June 16, 2007, midnight

NEW YORK – Wall Street barreled higher again Friday after the week’s most anticipated economic reading indicated that inflation excluding the price of gas remained tepid last month, easing some concerns that have jolted stock and bond markets in recent sessions.

The Dow Jones industrial average – which has surged more than 340 points over the last three days, the biggest three-day point gain since November 2004 – is now less than 40 points below its record close reached on June 4.

The three major stock indexes finished the week sharply higher, even as Friday’s consumer price index showed prices rose at the fastest pace in 20 months in May as the cost of gas jumped. Investors were enthusiastic that the core CPI, which excludes often volatile food and energy prices, rose a lower-than-expected 0.1 percent. The figure, which the inflation-wary Federal Reserve watches closely, was below the 0.2 percent increase Wall Street expected.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 5.15 percent Friday from 5.23 percent late Thursday after release of the CPI report helped ease emergent concerns that the Fed might raise rather than lower interest rates this year.

The notion of a rate increase gained traction last week when inflation concerns sent the yield on the 10-year note above 5 percent for the first time since last summer. Subsequent spikes in bond yields, which move in the opposite direction as prices, roiled stock markets last week and early this week.

“Today’s numbers showed us that the little spook we had last week and earlier this week was misplaced,” said Rob Lutts, president and chief investment officer at Cabot Money Management Inc.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow jumped 85.76, or 0.63 percent, to 13,639.48.

Broader stock indicators also rose Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.94, or 0.65 percent, to 1,532.91, moving near its record close of 1,539.18, hit June 4.

The Nasdaq composite index, still well off its record levels reached during the dot-com boom, rose 27.30, or 1.05 percent, to 2,626.71.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Lutts contended that concerns about inflation have been overblown and that increased trade and further intertwining of world economies will stave off major spikes in prices.

“What you’re getting is a contribution of hundreds of millions of lower-cost workers coming into our economy. It’s very positive for all economic activity,” Lutts said.

Among other economic news, the Fed reported industrial production remained flat following a 0.4 percent jump in April. A slowdown had been expected amid a drop in output by utilities in May as weather proved milder than in April.

A reading on the current account deficit, which reflects not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries, showed an increase as oil prices climbed. The Commerce Department said the imbalance in the current account increased 2.5 percent to $192.6 billion in the January-to-March period, compared with $187.9 billion in the fourth quarter. The increase was slightly below what analysts had been expecting.


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