- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street rose moderately yesterday, 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 renewed talks to acquire or invest in Yahoo helped buoy investor sentiment as did word that Reuters Group received a preliminary takeover offer.

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 yesterday the nation’s jobless rate rose to still-low 4.5 percent in April.

“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 in Baltimore, 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.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 3.23, or 0.21 percent, to 1,505.62. The closing high of 1,527.46 — reached March 24, 2000 — is within sight.

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

Yesterday’s advance marked another week of prodigious gains. The Dow rose 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 gained 0.77 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq rose 0.58 percent.

Government data that showed employers added the fewest new jobs in more than two years spurred bond market gains. 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 4.67 percent late Thursday. The dollar remained mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

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

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.

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 volume came to 1.53 billion shares, down from 1.58 billion on Thursday.

Overseas, stock markets in much of Asia, including Japan and Hong Kong, were closed for holidays. Britain’s FTSE 100 finished up 1.01 percent, Germany’s DAX index advanced 0.54 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 1.08 percent.

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