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May 8, 2007 > Wall Street advances

Wall Street advances

By Tim Paradis

NEW YORK (AP), May 04 _ Wall Street rose moderately Friday, carving out its fourth straight weekly gain amid a fresh round of corporate takeover news and employment figures that largely met expectations.

Reports that Microsoft Corp. renewed talks to acquire or invest in Yahoo Inc. helped buoy investor sentiment Friday as did word that Reuters Group PLC received a preliminary takeover offer. There is speculation that Thomson Corp., the financial data provider, is the likely suitor for the British news and information company.

Beyond the buyout news, which has figured prominently in shaping Wall Street's largely upbeat mood in recent months, economic figures offered some nuggets for both bullish and bearish investors. The Labor Department said Friday the nation's jobless rate rose to 4.5 percent in April as expected; in the prior month, the rate stood at a five-year low of 4.4 percent.

``The economic data suggest that the economy is not tanking and inflation is not accelerating and that the Fed is not going to upset the apple cart,'' said Alan Levenson, chief economist at T. Rowe Price, referring to the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.24, or 0.18 percent, to 13,264.62, its fourth straight record close. The Dow also reached a new trading high of 13,284.53.

The blue chip index has set 19 record closes since the start of the year and 41 since the beginning of October.

Broader stock indicators also moved higher Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 3.23, or 0.21 percent, to 1,505.62. On Thursday, the S&P 500 moved above the 1,500 mark for the first time in nearly seven years, and it rose as high as 1,510.34 Friday. The return to 1,500 puts the closing high of 1,527.46 _ reached March 24, 2000 _ within investors' sights.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 6.69, or 0.26 percent, to 2,572.15; while the Nasdaq has risen alongside the Dow and the S&P in recent sessions, it remains about halfway toward its March 2000 high.

Friday's advance marked another week of prodigious gains. The Dow is up 1.10 percent for the week after crossing 13,200 for the first time Wednesday. It gained 7.7 percent in the previous 25 sessions. The S&P 500 is up 0.77 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq rose 0.58 percent.

Driving bond investors was government data that showed employers added the fewest new jobs in more than two years. While Wall Street doesn't want consumers to feel less secure in their jobs and perhaps curb their spending, a spike in wages amid a tight labor market could stir concerns about inflation _ and that could force the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive about interest rates.

Bonds rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.64 percent from 4.65 percent late Thursday. The dollar remained mixed against other major currencies Friday, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude fell $1.26 to $61.93 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

With acquisitive investors apparently circling media and information properties Yahoo and Reuters, interest in such companies could be growing. Word of the possible combinations comes three days after News Corp., run by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, offered to acquire Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. for $5 billion. Dow Jones rose 3 cents to $55.80 Friday as the likelihood of a deal remained unclear. News Corp. climbed 14 cents to $23.58.

A broader spate of merger and acquisition activity seen recently has helped push stocks higher because investors generally regard such deals as bullish bets by companies on the health of the economy.

Friday's takeover news sent the targeted companies higher. Yahoo rose $2.80, or 9.9 percent, to $30.98, while Reuters rose $15.84, or 26.9 percent, to $74.76. Investors, who tend to distance themselves from companies doing the acquiring, sent Thomson down 28 cents to $43.45 and Microsoft down 41 cents to $30.56.

Along with takeovers, earnings reports continue to draw attention on Wall Street. Better-than-expected profits have served as a catalyst for pushing stocks to record levels in recent months. Forest products company Weyerhaeuser Co. jumped $4.47, or 5.7 percent, to $82.62 after reporting it swung to a profit from a loss in the first quarter largely because of a combination of its fine-paper business with another paper maker.

Not all quarterly reports pleased investors, however. Eastman Kodak Co. fell $1.25, or 4.8 percent, to $24.72, after the company's first-quarter loss narrowed but still fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The company has been trying to move beyond a shrinking film business and further into digital products.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.73 billion shares, down from 2.89 billion on Thursday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 4.01, or 0.48 percent, to 832.88.

___

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 143.68, or 1.10 percent, at 13,264.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 11.55, or 0.77 percent, at 1,505.62. The Nasdaq composite index ended up 14.94, or 0.58 percent, at 2,572.15.

The Russell 2000 index finished the week up 3.18, or 0.38 percent, at 832.88.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index _ a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies _ ended Friday at 15,194.08, up 101.33 points for the week. A year ago, the index was at 13,318.34.

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