NEW YORK – Stocks edged higher Friday, extending a rally that began nearly two weeks ago, as investors hold on to their newfound optimism about the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points in very light trading. It was the seventh day of gains out of the past eight for the index. Treasury prices eased as traders became more willing to take on risk.
Stocks have escaped their August doldrums and moved steadily higher in September thanks to a series of encouraging signals on the economy. The latest came Friday morning 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.