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Microsoft bid for Yahoo helps propel stocks

NEW YORK – Wall Street capped a week of big gains with another sizable advance Friday after investors set aside anxiety over news that the economy lost jobs last month and focused on Microsoft Corp.’s bid for Internet company Yahoo Inc. and a possible rescue plan for the troubled bond insurance sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index each rose more than 4 percent for the week, their steepest gains since March 2003.

Stocks fluctuated at times Friday, however, as investors weighed seemingly contradictory readings on the economy. Wall Street was pleased by Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo. Merger news, which often energizes stocks, has been in short supply for months. But the mix of economic news reminded investors of the continuing fallout from the housing and mortgage crisis.

“We’re starting to see the long-term investors and the fund mangers come back into the market. That’s why I think you’re seeing stocks rally even when there is negative news,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist for Cantor Fitzgerald.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92.83, or 0.73 percent, to 12,743.19 after climbing more than 200 points Thursday.

Broader stock indicators also moved higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 16.87, or 1.22 percent, to 1,395.42, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 23.50, or 0.98 percent, to 2,413.36.

For the week, the Dow jumped 536.02 points, or 4.4 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the market measure most closely followed by professional traders, added 4.9 percent and the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.8 percent.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 17.20, or 2.41 percent, Friday to 730.50.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by more than 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 4.51 billion shares, compared with 5.22 billion shares traded Thursday.

Bond prices slipped in late trading. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.60 percent from 3.59 percent late Thursday.

The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

The week’s gains restored some of the huge losses seen in the earliest days of the year. Still, stocks this week finished what was their worst January since 1990. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 6.1 percent for the month.