NEW YORK – Stocks ended a quiet session slightly higher Friday after a report showing surprisingly strong growth in manufacturing in the Midwest reassured investors getting ready for the long Labor Day holiday weekend.
The Dow Jones industrial average (search) rose 41.61 points, or 0.44 percent, to 9,415.82. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) added 5.19 points, or 0.52 percent, at 1,008.03. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) gained 10.40 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,810.58.
For the week, the blue-chip Dow rose 0.72 percent -- its fourth straight up week -- while the S&P 500 gained 1.51 percent and the Nasdaq rose 2.56 percent.
Trading floors were quiet and volume was paltry as market players got an early start to the long Labor Day holiday weekend. The stock market will be closed on Monday.
Early Friday, the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago (search) said its monthly index of business activity rose to 58.9 in August from 55.9 in July, easily beating forecasts of 55.5. The report suggests U.S. factories may see faster growth and should start adding to payrolls in manufacturing, the hardest-hit sector in the recession.
"(The Chicago PMI) helped gains. It's not that the economic data coming out is overly positive, it's just that it's not negative," said Adam Tracy, director of listed trading at Thomas Weisel Partners in San Francisco. "It shows the second-half recovery is still on track."
Stocks have risen sharply since hitting year-lows in early March, as investors have bet on a strong economic recovery picking up later this year. For the month of August, the blue-chip Dow gained 1.97 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.79 percent, and the Nasdaq is up 4.35 percent.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 have risen for six straight months, while the Nasdaq has racked up seven in a row. It was the longest stretch of monthly gains for both the Dow and Nasdaq since 1995, and the longest streak of up months for the S&P since 1998, according to market research firm MarketHistory.com.
In other news on the economy on Friday, the government said U.S. personal spending surged in July, the latest sign of a solidifying economic rebound, though personal income rose slightly less than expected.
A separate survey said U.S. consumer sentiment fell in August, as a stagnant labor market made Americans a bit gloomier, but still far more optimistic than they were during the Iraq war. The University of Michigan's final August index of consumer sentiment fell to 89.3, below forecasts of 90.5, from 90.9 in July.
Among stocks making headlines, RadioShack Corp. (RSH) shares rose, after the No. 3 U.S. consumer electronics retailer forecast earnings in the current quarter above Wall Street expectations. RadioShack shares rose 90 cents, or 3.05 percent, to $30.40.
Novellus Systems Inc. (NVLS) fell, a day after it backed its quarterly financial targets but warned of a $70 million charge to write down older chip making equipment that would deepen its net loss. Shares of Novellus, which makes equipment used to build microchips, fell 89 cents, or 2.18 percent, to $39.96.
Shares of Kmart Holding Corp. shot up, after the discount retail chain reported late Thursday a much narrower quarterly loss, its first results since it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Shares of Kmart, which filed for bankruptcy in January 2002, rose $1.23, or 4.18 percent, to a new year-high of $30.67.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) rose 50 cents to $7.12 after the company announced Thursday it will eliminate about 500 jobs at its North American tire operations as part of continuing cost-cutting measures.
Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) advanced 75 cents to $28.39 after reporting a 9 percent increase in same-store sales in August.
Peoplesoft (PSFT) rose 35 cents to $18.05 after brokerage house Robert W. Baird upgraded it to "outperform" from "neutral."
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, rose 1.61, or 0.3 percent, at 497.42. The Russell had a weekly gain of 2.5 percent.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Friday up 1.16 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 fell 0.4 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 forfeited 0.9 percent and Germany's DAX index declined 0.2 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.