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Stocks Gain for Week Amid Glimmers of Hope

Stocks pulled off a gain in the final minutes of trading Friday after a rocky session as investors weighed some encouraging economic reports against gloomy earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.29, or 0.5 percent, to close at 8,212.41. The S&P 500 also advanced 0.5 percent, while the Nasdaq gained 0.1 percent.

For the week, all three indexes gained more than 1 percent as investors began to see glimmers of hope that an economic recovery is on the way.

>> Get Ready: Buffett Annual Letter Due Out Saturday

It was an eventful week, marked by fears about swine flu, news that Chrysler will file for bankruptcy protection and the first time the Fed has said in its statement that the pace of economic deterioration appears to be slowing.

Consumer confidence soared in Aprilto its highest level since the September failure of Lehman Brothers, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan final reading for April. It also marked the first year-over-year increase in the indicator since July 2007.

Among other data released Friday: The Institute for Supply Management reported its gauge of the manufacturing index jumped to 40.1 in April from 36.3 in March, while factory orders dropped 0.9 percent in March and were revised sharply lower for the prior month.

Traders have been encouraged by economic reports all week, including the drop in jobless claims Thursday and the paring of inventories in the GDP report Wednesday, which was interpreted as a sign that a build in inventories may be coming.

For the week, utilities were the best performer, up 4.6 percent, while financials were the worst, down 2.9 percent.

Caterpillar, Walt Disney and General Motors were the biggest gainers on the Dow this week, while Citigroup, Bank of America and American Express were the biggest losers.

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In Friday's trading:

Alcoa was the biggest percentage gainer on the Dow, climbing 6.8 percent, after the company said it sold the second of four units it's been trying to unload this year so it can focus on its aluminum business.

McDonald's was one of the biggest drags on the Dow, down 1.7 percent, after Goldman Sachs removed the stock from its "conviction buy" list following its recent runup.

>> Cold Beer+Spicy Wings=Super Hot Recession Stock

Banks finished lower ahead of the stress-test results, due out next Thursday.

Citigroup and Bank of America shed 2.6 percent, while JPMorgan, Chrysler's biggest lender, lost 1.6 percent.

General Motors and Ford shares fell about 5 to 6 percent after the struggling automakers reported sales dropped more than 30 percent in April, but still finished up for the week.

In earnings news, MasterCard shares fell 5.8 percent after the credit-card maker beat estimates but said 2009 revenue will miss its targetamid a drop in consumer credit-card use.

Hartford Investment Group lost 8 percent after the company reported a first-quarter loss of $1.21 billion or $3.77 a share, worse than expectations of $3.05 a share. The fourth biggest U.S. insurer said it was closing most of its operations in Britain, Ireland and Germany as part of a pullback from Europe.

U.S. oil titan Chevron reported its earnings tumbled 64 percent, hit by the drop in oil prices. Its stock finished up 1.2 percent.

On the plus side, DryShips posted earnings of 36 cents a share, nearly double the 19 cents that Wall Street expected. The stock jumped 12 percent.

Meanwhile, Mexico began shutting down its businessesin an effort to slow the spread of a new swine flu strain as more cases were found in the U.S. and officials urged increased worldwide precautions against a possible pandemic.

The World Health Organization Friday said the number of officially confirmed cases of the new flu was 331 in 11 countries, including 10 deaths.

In the U.S., Johnson & Johnson said it was ramping up production of its Purell hand sanitizer.

Health officials have encouraged the use of alcohol-based sanitizers as a way of preventing the spread of swine flu.

On Tap for Next Week:

MONDAY: Construction spending; pending-home sales; Fed's Hoenig & Lacker speak; Earnings from Loews, Sprint
TUESDAY: ISM services index; Earnings from Kraft Foods, CVS, Disney, Electronic Arts and Pulte Homes
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; ADP employment report; Weekly crude inventories; Earnings from Cisco, News Corp., Prudential
THURSDAY: Chain-store sales; Stress-test results; BOE/ECB announcements; Weekly jobless claims; Fed's Bernanke speaks; Consumer credit; Earnings from Unilever, CBS, Nvidia
FRIDAY: Jobs report; wholesale trade; Earnings from Toyota, Berkshire Hathaway

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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