Stocks eked out a third day of slight gains as the Federal Reserve's Beige Book data soothed inflation worries.
Surging oil prices kept the major indexes in negative territory for most of the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.80, or 0.2 percent, to 10,566.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2.67, or 0.2 percent, to 1,206.58. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.88, or 0.3 percent, to 2,074.92.
According to the Beige Book, economic activity expanded at a decent pace in the last two months, although improvements in some parts of the country and in some business sectors appeared spotty. The Fed's 12 regional banks described their area's economic activity with such words as "moderate," "solid" and "well sustained."
Oil prices rose after a government report showed that domestic supplies shrank last week amid higher gasoline demand. The Energy Department's weekly supply snapshot showed U.S. inventories of crude oil fell by 1.8 million barrels last week to 329 million barrels, leaving supplies almost 9 percent above year-ago levels. That caused light sweet crude for July delivery to rise 57 cents, settling at $55.57 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Among local companies, shares of Intermix Media Inc. rose 11.5 percent to $6.80 after the L.A.-based Internet marketing firm said late Tuesday that it agreed to pay $7.5 million over three years to settle a lawsuit with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Intermix admitted no wrongdoing in the suit, which accused it of installing software that delivers pop-up ads or takes users to unwanted Web sites. Separately, it increased its forecast for 2006 revenue to $118 million from as much as $115 million.
Nara Bancorp Inc. gained 5 percent to $14.87 after the L.A.-based holding company of Nara Bank's stock was rated "buy" in new coverage by analyst Scott Carmel at Moors & Cabot. The 12-month price target was set at $15.50 per share.
Napster Inc. edged up 2.3 percent to $4.43 after the L.A.-based digital music services announced it was launching a digital music service for mobile phones with Ericsson. The move was seen as an effort to cut down Apple's dominance in the online music arena.
On the down side, National Lampoon Inc. plunged 19.6 percent to $4.10 after the L.A.-based entertainment company reported a net loss of $1.8 million (52 cents per diluted share) for the third quarter ended April 30, compared with $1.4 million (45 cents) for the like period a year earlier.
And shares of MannKind Corp. fell 9.5 percent to $8.97 after the Valencia-based biopharmaceutical company was downgraded to "reduce" from "neutral" by analyst Annabel Samimy at UBS AG.
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