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April 10, 2007 > Wall Street edges higher

Wall Street edges higher

By Joe Bel Bruno

NEW YORK (AP), Apr 05 _Wall Street ended a winning, holiday-shortened week with a quiet advance Thursday as investors awaited the release of March employment figures and remained cautiously optimistic after their recent buying streak. For the week, the major indexes showed gains each day and returned to positive territory for the year.

There was a subdued tone to trading Thursday as investors adjusted portfolios ahead of a three-day weekend; the stock market is closed for Good Friday. Investors were particularly careful because they won't be able to trade on Friday's Labor Department's employment report until the stock market reopens Monday morning.

There was little reaction to the department's report that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to their highest weekly level since March 3, which indicated companies might be struggling to cope with sluggish growth in the national economy.

Thursday marked the Dow's sixth straight session of gains, its biggest streak of advances since November. The blue chip average spent the first half of Thursday's session in negative territory before moving higher at about midday.

``The market went up on fumes this week,'' said Philip S. Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher. ``Nobody has any wild expectations to the positive for the jobs report. But, barring some kind of negative report, I still think we'll see the market tread water.''

The Dow rose 30.15, or 0.24 percent, to 12,560.20.

Broader stock indicators also made gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.39, or 0.3 percent, to 1,443.76, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 12.65, or 0.51 percent, to 2,471.34.

For the week, the Dow rose 0.78 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 2.3 percent. The Dow added more than 100 points Tuesday after a stronger-than-expected report on sales of existing homes helped shore up investors' confidence in the economy.

Bonds fell ahead of the employment report; the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.68 percent from 4.65 percent late Wednesday. The bond market will be open for an abbreviated session Friday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, and sank to two-year lows against the euro ahead of the long weekend and amid concerns about interest rates. Gold prices rose during the session.

Oil prices settled down slightly a day after a modest ease in global political tensions. Prices had advanced in recent weeks in part amid unease over Iran's now-ended detention of British sailors and marines. Investors are now focused on energy inventories and demand, and sent a barrel of light, sweet crude down 10 cents to $64.28 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Some order was restored to the market this week after a series of volatile sessions last week.

``The market continues to fluctuate in a narrow range. I don't expect a big move in either direction because I think the economy has slowed but the slowdown is proving very mild,'' said Stuart Schweitzer, global markets strategist for JPMorgan Private Bank. He noted inflation remains higher than the Federal Reserve would like, likely keeping the central bank from lowering short-term interest rates.

``I think the movie will end well and we'll be smiling but there may be some scenes where we just have to take our eyes away from the screen.''

DaimlerChrysler AG shares surged $3.81, or 4.7 percent, to $84.80 after billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. approached the German automaker's board about acquiring its U.S.-based Chrysler division. He has held stakes in Chrysler since the 1990s, a decade after he lost out on a deal to acquire the full company. Kerkorian said he would offer Chrysler a stake in the company.

The bid also sent shares of General Motors Corp. up 87 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $31.90. Kerkorian was previously GM's largest individual shareholder, before selling his stake in December.

Micron Technology Inc. pressured technology stocks after the flash memory maker posted disappointing second-quarter results late Wednesday. The company swung to a loss as costs swelled and prices weakened. Shares fell 56 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $11.51.

Beer and wine maker Constellation Brands Inc. rose 67 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $21.49 after it reported fourth-quarter profit grew 26 percent. Strong wine sales helped the company offset a decline in imported beer, and competition in the British market.

Dell Inc. reported late Wednesday it will not file its annual report on time, citing delays in completing an internal investigation into its account practices. Shares of the personal computer maker, which has also delayed its second-quarter and third-quarter reports, rose 15 cents to $23.51.

Barnes & Noble Inc. rose 73 cents to $40.53 after analysts said the bookseller likely won't have to restate earnings results after its internal investigation into backdated stock options. The company announced late Wednesday that it found numerous instances of improperly dated option grants, and would need to decrease retained earnings by $22.8 million.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 5 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.31 billion shares, compared with 2.61 billion shares traded Wednesday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.56, or 0.32 percent, to 813.35.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 205.85, or 1.67 percent, at 12,560,20. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 25.46, or 1.80 percent, at 1,443.76. The Nasdaq composite index rose 56.05, or 2.32 percent, to 2,471.34.

The Russell 2000 index closed the week up 11.64, or 1.45 percent, at 813.35.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index _ a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies_ ended the week at 14,640.38, up 231.11 points from last week. A year ago, the index was at 13,292.30.

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