Stocks ended higher on Friday, as investors cheered an unexpectedly high jump in consumer confidence and shrugged off concerns over soaring oil prices and a rising trade deficit.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for the seventh straight session, gaining 44.42, or 0.4 percent, to 10,623.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up for the year for the first time since March 9, gaining 6 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,216.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.96, or 0.1 percent, to 2,090.11.
Wall Street welcomed the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which came in at 94.8, a much higher reading than the 88.8 investors expected.
But investors seemed rather unconcerned when crude oil prices surged to a record high above $58 a barrel on fears of insufficient gasoline supplies during the high-demand U.S. summer driving season. After climbing as high as $58.60 per barrel, light sweet crude for July delivery settled at $58.47, an increase of $1.89 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
And the Commerce Department released its measure of the first-quarter current account deficit. The broadest measure of foreign trade, which hit a record, grew 33 percent from a year ago, rising to $195.1 billion.
Among local movers, shares of KB Home jumped 6.9 percent to $77.25 after the L.A.-based homebuilder late Thursday increased its full-year profit forecast to $9 a share from $7.88. Analysts on average had expected $7.97. Other homebuilders including Pulte Homes Inc. rose after Smith Barney analyst Stephen Kim upgraded six of the companies, including KB Home, to "buy" from "hold," saying he expects a "wave of upward earnings revisions" in the group. KB Home's stock was also upgraded to "strong buy" from "market perform" by JMP Securities.
Unocal Corp. gained 3.6 percent to $63.69 after the Financial Times reported that China National Offshore Oil Corp. moved a step closer to making a counter-offer to trump Chevron Corp.'s $16 billion cash-and-shares bid for El Segundo-based Unocal. The newspaper said that CNOOC's independent advisers, U.K. investment bank Rothschild, will likely persuade the company's non-executive directors to back a plan to beat ChevronTexaco's offer.
On the down side, shares of Image Entertainment Inc. sank 24 percent to $2.97 after the Chatsworth-based digital video disc distributor reported late Thursday a profit of 5 cents per share in the fourth quarter ended March 31. Analysts on average expected 6 cents. The company also said it now expects to report a loss for the three months ended June 30, with sales forecast between $19 million and $21 million.
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