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Stocks Push Higher as Commodity Prices Rise

Stocks advanced Friday as commodity prices rose and the dollar fell after a Greek official said the debt-riddled nation has not yet sought financial aid.

The Dow was up more than 20 points, led byChevron , Disney, AT&T.

Alcoa and Walmart were among the early decliners.

Alcoa reports earnings on Monday, marking the unofficial kickoff to earnings season. The stock got another downgrade today: JPMorgan cut its rating to "neutral" from "overweight." Earlier this week, Deutsche Bank slashed its rating and and full-year forecast for the company amid worries about a weak first quarter.

Overall, S&P 500 earnings are expected to be up 36.8 percent from a year ago, according to the latest survey by Thomson Reuters. It would be the second straight increase in earnings.

But some market pros say a solid earnings season is already priced into the market, so it's going to take some knock-out earnings to impress the market.

Wal-Mart , the world's biggest retailer, is cutting prices on 10,000 items in an attempt to halt slowing U.S. sales, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Overall, retailers were a mixed bag as the market cheered strong March sales but worried that some of that may come at the expense of April sales.

JCPenney jumped more than 2 percent after Goldman Sachs added the department-store stock to its "buy" list.

The Dow is right around where it was at the end of last week, at 10,927.07 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are on track for weekly gains, and if all three are positive for the week, it will mark the sixth consecutive weekly rise, the first time that's happened since March and April of last year.

European shares were higher in the wake of better-than-expected U.S. retail sales data and as Greek bank stocks rebounded and yield spreads between Greek government bonds and German bunds narrowed. Asian stocks closed mostly in the green with the Hang Seng leading the gains.

Oil prices topped $86 a barrel, nearing an 18-month high as the dollar fell against the euro.

In the morning's economic news, wholesale inventories rose 0.6 percent in February after a 0.1-percent rise in January. Economists had expected a more modest 0.4-percent increase.

In banking news, the Wall Street Journal reported that 18 banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, understated their debt levels used to fund securities trades by lowering them an average of 42 percent at the end of each of the five past quarters, to make their balance sheets look less risky.

Palm jumped more than 8 percent today amid continuing buzz that the gadget maker could be a takeover target.

Research In Motion ticked higher following news the BlackBerry maker is acquiring QNX Software, a company that makes automotive software.

Apple also rose as the company is unveiling an advertising platform for the iPad.

TiVo shares rose after Citi put out a note saying the digital-video-recorder company is likely to merge with satellite-television provider EchoStar . EchoStar shares fell, while shares of rival Dish network rose.

And shares of Jacobs Engineering jumped amid speculation that it may be a takover target.

Shares of United parent UAL and U.S. Airways rose Thursday on news the two are in merger talks, but United pilots have now say they are "vehemently opposed" to such a combination and flight attendants have also said they don't support such a deal. Additionally, the CEO of American Airlines parent AMR , Gerard Arpey, told a Los Angeles media event that consolidation is "no silver bullet" for the airline industry.

Aetna said it's suspending new enrollment in Medicare plans and marketing to the elderly due to new government sanctions.

Shares of Massey Energy rebounded after taking a hit in recent sessions following the massive explosion at one of its mines in West Virginia that left 25 miners dead and four missing.

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.