NEW YORK – So much for that soft patch.
An unexpected rebound in U.S. manufacturing surprised investors. Many had lowered their estimates for growth over the last two months as the economic recovery appeared to be slowing down. A shortage of computer chips and auto parts from Japan, higher gas prices and severe weather in the South all contributed to the gloomier estimates.
But Friday's Institute for Supply Management report reinforced the growing perception that the slowdown was temporary. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and a number of prominent economists have argued that the economy will pick up again once the effects of the Japan disaster waned and high gas prices receded.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 144 points, or 1.2 percent, to 12,559 in afternoon trading. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 16, or 1.2 percent, to 1,336. The Nasdaq composite added 37, or 1.3 percent, to 2,810.
Todd Salamone, an investment strategist at Schaffer's Investment Research said the recent surge in stocks represents an "unwinding of the tremendous negativity that built up over the past few weeks."
It was the fourth time this week that the Dow gained more than 100 points. The market is on track for its best week since July of last year. The Dow Jones industrial average has gained 600 points, or 5 percent, so far this week.
All 30 stocks in the index rose. Companies that do well during times of economic expansion led the index. Alcoa Inc. and General Electric Co. each gained more than 2 percent.
Among U.S. companies, the for-profit education company Apollo Group rose 7 percent despite a steep drop in student enrollment. The company's profits fell, but not as much as analysts had predicted. Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Red Lobster and the Olive Garden, rose 4 percent after reporting that sales rose in all of its divisions. And Eastman Kodak lost 10 percent after a judge threw out some of its claims in a trade dispute with Apple Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd.
Stocks began a weeklong rally Monday after Nike Inc. reported strong quarterly results. The company's results indicated that shoppers are still splurging on pricier sneakers and sportswear, despite the recent run-up in gas prices.
The Dow added more than 150 points Thursday after Greece cleared its final hurdle before it receives its next round of loans. A separate report released Thursday showed that manufacturing in the Chicago region had picked up unexpectedly.
The Dow eked out a small gain for the quarter that ended Thursday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell less than 0.4 percent in the second quarter.
No major corporate earnings reports are expected Friday. The next major round of earnings announcements begins July 11 when Alcoa Inc. releases its results.
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