Stocks Rise on GDP, Confidence Reports

The U.S. economy continued to expand in the second quarter, although at a slightly slower rate, and consumer confidence has held up better than expected, according to two reports issued Friday that helped stocks end the week on a positive note.

The Commerce Department said the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, below estimates of 3 percent and a slower clip than was seen earlier in the year.

Separately, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for August showed consumer confidence down, but not by as much as forecast.

The index stood at 95.9 for late August, compares to a consensus estimate of 93.8 ahead of the report.

Together the reports indicated the economy holding together better than many had thought, given earlier indictors.

That was enough to lift stocks across the board, even as oil prices crept higher again, ending their two week retreat.

Market Information

The Dow gained 21.60 points to finish the week at 10,195.01, and the Nasdaq tacked on 9.16 points to 1,862.08.

The S&P 500 rose 2.68 points to finish the session and the week at 1,107.77. The averages made gains for the second week in a row.

As with earlier trading sessions this week, volume was light.

Traders are predicting subdued activity through most of next week, when the Republican National Convention opens in New York.

Many Wall Street companies are paring back staff to avoid traffic tie-ups and security measures associated with the convention.

Oil Returns

Oil prices stopped a week-long slide that had sent prices to a two-week nadir on Thursday.

What appeared to be a coordinated series of attacks on Iraqi pipelines were cited as the cause the stabilization of prices. In New York, trading prices rose just 8 cents to $43.18 a barrel.

Prices have still shaved 13 percent of their peak levels from earlier this month but remain up some 40 percent on the year.

Oils modest comeback might have subdued stock gains some.

Also weighing on investors might have been Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspans strongly worded warnings that the U.S. public pension system needs to be revamped to avoid damaging the economy as millions of Baby Boomers approach retirement age.

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