Stocks Rise on Positive Data, Tech Rally

Stocks rose modestly Friday as investors welcomed a better-than-expected revision of the gross domestic product, reassuring consumer confidence data and a bounce in technology stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average (search) ended up 21.60 points, or 0.21 percent, at 10,195.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) was up 2.68 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,107.77. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) closed up 9.17 points, or 0.49 percent, at 1,862.09.

The Dow closed at its highest level since July 14, while the S&P touched its highest mark since July 20. The Nasdaq was at its highest since Aug. 2.

For the week, the Dow rose 0.8 percent, while the S&P 500 added 0.9 percent. The Nasdaq rose 1.3 percent.

Semiconductor stocks rose with Intel Corp. (INTC) solidly boosting major market indexes. Its shares climbed 25 cents, or 1.15 percent, to $22.02.

Investors also were relieved about stabilizing oil prices as New York Mercantile Exchange (search) crude futures remained around $43 a barrel, nudging up just 8 cents to settle at $43.18. Stocks have been dented by high oil prices amid worries of the impact they will have on corporate profits and the economy. Just a week ago, prices approached $50 a barrel.

But overall, trading was very quiet during the session, with daily volume on the New York Stock Exchange the lightest so far this year. With the Republican National Convention coming up and summer vacations winding down, many traders were already out of the office.

"It's a very light day. It's the week before the convention and it's a Friday in the summer," said Stephen Carl, principal and head of U.S. equity trading at The Williams Capital Group.

"It's a very, very slow day and volume's anemic, so there's not much to tell," he added.

The 2.8 percent GDP growth in the second quarter, a revision from the 3 percent preliminary figure reported in July, is a far cry from the 4.5 percent growth in the first quarter. However, the figure was slightly better than the 2.7 percent expansion economists had forecast.

Economists said the second quarter GDP growth was hampered by energy costs, which the Commerce Department (search) said kept many consumers from spending as much on goods and services. The GDP growth was also restrained by the nation's ballooning trade deficit, which showed that what money consumers were spending was heading to overseas companies.

Consumer belt tightening was echoed in the latest consumer sentiment index reading from the University of Michigan (search). The index stood at 95.9 in August, down from 96.7 in July. Oil prices were widely blamed for the drop in consumer sentiment, but investors hoped that this week's drop would become part of a larger trend that would entice consumers to open their wallets again.

Falling energy costs have also given corporate America reason to hope after a weaker second quarter. The Commerce Department reported that after-tax corporate profits fell $11.3 billion in the second quarter, as compared to the first quarter. Profits were still up 17.9 percent year over year.

Investors also weighed a warning from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (search), speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyo., that the country would face severe hardships if Medicare and Social Security benefits to baby boomers aren't curtailed.

"It's such a mix of news today, and that really doesn't help us out," said Scott Wren, equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons. "There's no clarity in terms of inflation, with the oil prices and GDP, and there's really not much clarity in terms of earnings growth."

Among gainers were Altera Corp. (ALTR), up 12 cents at $19.30 and Texas Instruments (TXN), which rose 32 cents to $20.34.

Trading in the newly listed options on Google Inc. (GOOG), this year's widely anticipated stock, got off to a strong start on Friday. Closing volume of Google options was robust, as roughly 31,128 calls and 37,990 puts changed hands combined across the U.S. options exchange, according to Track Data. Google's shares slipped $1.76, or 1.6 percent, to $106.15 on Nasdaq.

Other stocks boosting the market were pharmaceuticals. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) rose 19 cents to $57.71, and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) jumped 34 cents, or 1 percent, to $32.65. Merck & Co. Inc. rose 10 cents to $45.15.

Chattem Inc. (CHTT), maker of consumer healthcare and hygiene products, rose $1.34 to $30.26 after it boosted its third-quarter earnings outlook and reduced its estimate of settlement costs related to class-action lawsuits over its Dexatrim diet pills.

Microchip equipment maker Novellus Systems Inc. (NVLS) lowered its earnings and sales estimates due to low demand, prompting Lehman Brothers to cut its second-half estimates for the company. Novellus was nonetheless up 53 cents at $25.18.

Pharmaceutical company Chiron Corp. (CHIR) tumbled $4.08 to $43.41 after it said deliveries of flu vaccines would be delayed due to contamination issues. The news led brokerages Deutsche Bank and Robert W. Baird to cut their ratings on the company.

Just 848 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, far below the 1.4 billion daily average for last year. About 1 billion shares were traded on Nasdaq, also way below the 1.69 billion daily average last year.

It was the lowest volume day since Dec. 26 2003, according to data from

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE and the Nasdaq by about 2-to-1.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up 4.42, or 0.8 percent, at 551.67.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.7 percent. In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed up 0.8 percent, while Germany's DAX index and France's CAC-40 both gained 0.5 percent for the session.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.