US stocks post their best week since July

US stocks post their bes

SHARES WALL STREET The American stock market is keeping its momentum going, giving shares their best week in more than two months. Moderate gains on Friday led by health care and utility companies pushed stocks to a 4 percent gain for the week, their best performance since July. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 78 points, reaching its highest level in a year. Bond prices tumbled, extending the previous day's losses, as the Treasury market struggled to absorb $71 billion of new supply auctioned off last week in the US government's ongoing efforts to fund its stimulus programs. Last week investors cheered more signs that the US economy is healing, including growth in service industries, a surprise profit from aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. and the first gain in retail sales in over a year. The moderate rise in stocks Friday comes two years to the day after the market hit its peak. The Dow is still down 30.4% from its high on October 9, 2007, while the S&P 500 index is down 31.5%. The Dow rose 78.07, or 0.8%, to 9,864.94, its highest close since October 6 last year. The S&P 500 index rose 6.01, or 0.6%, to 1,071.49, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 15.35, or 0.7%, to 2,139.28. For the week, the Dow rose 4%, its biggest gain since the week ended July 24. The S&P 500 index rose 4.5%, its best performance since the week ended July 17. The Nasdaq added 4.5%. Bond prices fell sharply as selling that was sparked by a weak auction of 30-year bonds on Thursday continued. The 30-year bond fell more than 2 points - its biggest one-day drop in nearly three months - sending its yield up to 4.22% from 4.09% late Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.38% from 3.25%. EUROPE The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 7 points, or 0.1%, at 5,711.88, while Germany's DAX fell 5 points, or 0.1%, to 5,711.88. The CAC-40 in France was 7 points, or 0.2%, lower at 3,799.61. ASIA Chinese stocks were the best performers Friday. Shanghai's main index climbed 132.29 points, or 4.8%, to 2,911.72, easily making the index the best performing in Asia. Japan's Nikkei index gained 1.9% to 10,016.39, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 6.54 points higher at 21,499.44. CURRENCIES The dollar rose against most major currencies Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured markets that the US central bank will wind down its extraordinary stimulus measures when the time is right. Some investors interpreted Bernanke's comments as a sign the Fed might raise interest rates sooner than expected, which would boost the dollar versus other currencies as better yields make it more attractive to investors. The 16-nation euro slipped to $1.4709 in late New York trading, down from the $1.4778 late Thursday. That's slightly below a 12-month high of $1.4803. The British pound fell to $1.5835 from $1.6067, while the dollar advanced to 89.84 Japanese yen from 88.52 yen late Thursday. In other late trading Friday, the greenback fell to 1.0441 Canadian dollars from 1.0516 on news Canada's unemployment rate fell to 8.4% in September, the first decline in almost a year. Statistics Canada reported that the country added 30,600 jobs last month, several times more than economists expected. It was the second consecutive month of employment gains in Canada. The dollar rose to 1.0322 Swiss francs from 1.0272 francs late Thursday. COMMODITIES Orange juice was the star commodity Friday, outshining gold, which slumped after three days of hitting record highs. November orange juice futures surged 10.1%, adding 10 cents to settle at $1.0865 a pound after the US Department of Agriculture forecast a big drop in this season's orange crop. The USDA on Friday put the overall US orange crop at 8.25 million tons, down 10% from last season. In Florida, America's largest producer, the crop is expected to be down 16% from last season due to below-average rainfall and freezing temperatures earlier this year. The December gold contract fell $7.70 to $1,048.60 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after setting new record highs three days in a row this week. Gold finished the week up 4.4%. Oil prices were little moved, adding 8 cents to $71.77 a barrel on the Nymex. Crude finished the week up 2.6%.