Stocks Inch Higher as Wall Street Ignores Interest Rate Fears

U.S. stocks rose Friday, ending a week-long tumble in a see-saw session, as strength in tech stocks offset a slide in shares of some commodity-related companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 15.77 points, or 0.14 percent, to end at 11,144.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 5.22 points, or 0.41 percent, to finish at 1,267.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 13.56 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 2,193.88.

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Computer maker Dell Inc. (DELL) rose 2.6 percent on Nasdaq a day after it said it would begin using chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), ending Intel's monopoly.

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices shot up 11.5 percent in New York Stock Exchange trading.

Meanwhile, some investors sold commodities to take profits after gold, metal and oil prices surged to record highs over the past several weeks. The CRB Commodity Index hit a 52-week low at 337.54 — falling below the 50-day moving average for the first time since late March.

"This was a very tough week, and stocks managed, after tremendous volatility, to end it on a somewhat positive note, thanks to gains in some tech shares," said Evan Olsen, head of equity trading at Stephens Inc.

The Dow wrapped up its worst week in four months, ending the week down 2.1 percent. The S&P 500 fell 1.9 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq slid 2.2 percent.

"Some stocks have become cheap after this week's declines, but there's still fear that we are going to see inflation, slower growth and higher rates," said Jason Schenker, U.S. economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Individual equity options and some options on stock indexes expire after the close on Friday, adding yet more volatility to Friday's session, traders said.

In the tech sector, shares of computer maker Dell rose 2.6 percent, or 62 cents, to $24.57 on Nasdaq, while shares of AMD jumped 11.5 percent, or $3.60, to $34.95 on the NYSE. Shares of AMD's much bigger rival Intel Corp. slid 1.6 percent, or 29 cents, to $18.36 on Nasdaq.

Among losing sectors in the stock market on Friday were gold miners, steel manufacturers, aluminum companies, coal miners, oil producers and refiners.

Shares of Alcan Inc. (AL), the world's second-largest producer of aluminum, fell 0.8 percent, or 39 cents, to $49.27. The stock of oil company Chevron Corp. slipped 0.4 percent, or 23 cents, to $58.47.

The heaviest drag on the Dow was Caterpillar Inc.(CAT), the maker of heavy equipment used by miners, farmers and the construction industry. Caterpillar was down 2.5 percent, or $1.84, at $72.78.

A statement by Iran's OPEC governor that the oil cartel would keep output unchanged when it meets in June helped to push down crude prices.

U.S. crude for June delivery s fell 92 cents to settle at $68.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold and silver prices also tumbled.

"The drop in oil prices may give a much needed support to stocks," said Wachovia's Schenker.

Trading was heavy on the NYSE, with about 2.22 billion shares changing hands, above last year's daily average of 1.61 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 2.58 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 1.80 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 10 to 7 on the NYSE and by 17 to 13 on Nasdaq.

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