Stock prices barreled higher again Friday after the week's most anticipated economic reading indicated that US inflation excluding the price of gas remained tepid last month, easing concerns that have jolted stock and bond markets in recent sessions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 344 points in three days, the biggest three-day point gain since November 2004. The blue-chip index is now less than 40 points below its record close reached June 4.
The three major stock indexes finished the week higher, even as Friday's consumer price index showed prices rose at the fastest pace in 20 months in May as the cost of gas jumped. Investors were enthusiastic that the core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent. The figure, which the inflation-wary Federal Reserve watches closely, was below the 0.2% increase Wall Street expected.
The Dow Industrial Average jumped 85.76, or 0.63%, to 13,639.48.
Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.94, or 0.65%, to 1,532.91, moving near its record close of 1,539.18, also hit June 4.
The Nasdaq composite index, still well off its record levels reached during the dot-com boom, rose 27.30, or 1.05%, to 2,626.71.
For the week, the Dow rose 1.60%, the S&P 500 index rose 1.67%, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 2.07%. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq more than offset their losses of last week, while the Dow regained nearly all the ground it had lost.
In corporate news, Goldman Sachs raised its rating on chip maker Intel to "buy" from "neutral," saying an increase in outsourcing by rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. could benefit Intel. Intel rose $1.01, or 4.4%, to $24.24, making it the biggest gainer among the 30 Dow components. AMD slipped 15 cents to $13.63.
Gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. rose $1.24, or 8.3%, to $16.15 after reporting stronger-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter profit and sales, and raising its full-year forecasts.
London's FTSE 100-share index closed up 82.5 points, or 1.24%, at 6,732.4. Germany's DAX index rose 2.31%, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.96%.
Most markets rose, with Japanese stocks advancing for a second straight session as the weaker yen helped lift exporters. Shares in Hong Kong, South Korea and the Philippines climbed to new records.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 129.20 points, or 0.72%, to finish at 17,971.49 points.
Exporters such as automakers advanced amid the yen's weakness against the dollar. Toyota Motor Corp. rose 1.59% to 7,690 yen ($62.52).
In Hong Kong, shares rose to a new record, led by Chinese financial shares driven higher by compelling valuations and an anticipated tax removal. The Hang Seng Index rose 149.79 points, or 0.7%, to 21,017.05.
Chinese banks and insurance providers led the day's rise as Chinese retail investors bought their stocks, which have been underperforming the broad market.
The dollar slid against the euro after US data showed easing inflation, but it reached a fresh high against the yen as chances diminished for an interest rate hike in Japan.
The euro rose to $1.3378 in late New York trading from $1.3307 the day before.
The dollar climbed to 123.46 yen from 122.97 yen after the Bank of Japan left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 0.5% and suggested a July rate hike was unlikely.
The British pound rose to $1.9751 from $1.9694 late Thursday, and the dollar bought 1.0685 Canadian dollars, barely changed from 1.0684.
Gold and silver prices rose modestly after US government data showed mild consumer-level inflation, which suggested the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates.
Grain prices also climbed, boosted by weather-related worries and ever-surging ethanol demand.
Overall, it was a strong week for commodities, which rebounded from last week's selloff alongside the stock and bond markets as investors decided their inflation worries were overblown. Gold finished the week up 1.3%; copper climbed 4.9%; crude oil rose 5%; corn jumped 9.7%; and wheat, also lifted by weather concerns, spiked 15%.
As bond yields retreated Friday, gold for August delivery rose $2.70 to finish at $658.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. August silver rose 9.5 cents to end at $13.32 an ounce.
Crude oil and gasoline prices extended their rally over tight US gasoline supplies and a recent forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Violence in the Gaza Strip and tension between the United States and Iran over Iran's uranium enrichment program also lifted prices.
Light, sweet crude oil futures for July delivery rose 35 cents to settle at $68.00 a barrel on the Nymex - its highest close since September. July gasoline futures rose 3.54 cents to settle at $2.2601 a gallon.
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