Stocks ended higher on Thursday, overcoming four days of losses after Hurricane Rita weakened slightly to a still-powerful Category 4 storm, causing crude futures to decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.02, or 0.4 percent, to 10,422.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 4.42, or 0.4 percent, to 1,214.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 4.14, or 0.2 percent, to 2,110.78.

Oil prices eased after rising throughout much of the session on Rita's downgrade. Light sweet crude for November delivery fell 30 cents to settle at $66.50 a barrel after hitting $67.90, a session high, in morning trade.

Among local companies, shares of KB Home rose 4.2 percent to $73.70 after the L.A.-based homebuilder said its third-quarter profit nearly doubled, beating analysts' estimates, and it raised its full-year earnings forecast to $9.30 per diluted share, up from previous guidance of $9. Analysts anticipated 2005 earnings of $9.13 per share.

Mossimo Inc. edged up 0.2 percent to $4.99 after it announced that Mossimo Giannulli, its founder and majority shareholder, agreed to buy the 35 percent of Mossimo shares he doesn't own for $5 each, taking the Santa Monica-based clothing maker private.

Image Entertainment Inc. lost 1.7 percent to $4.15 after the Chatsworth-based home entertainment company's stock rating was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" by analyst Ali Mogharabi at B. Riley & Company Inc. The price target was set at $4.20 per share.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. sank 1 percent to $87.46 after coverage of its stock was initiated by UBS, rating it at "buy."

And shares of local video game publishers THQ Inc. and Activision Inc. fell after coverage of their stocks was initiated by analyst Stanford Horn at Fulcrum Global Partners. Calabasas Hills-based THQ slipped 0.4 percent to $21.37 after it was rated "buy" in new coverage, and Santa Monica-based Activision dipped 0.3 percent to $19.60 after it was rated "neutral."

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