Stocks Surge on Earnings, Dow Jones Industrials Eye 13,000

Wall Street bounded higher Friday, hurtling the Dow Jones industrial average to a record close approaching 13,000 as investors celebrated a week of surprisingly strong earnings reports.

Investors who had tempered their expectations for first-quarter earnings at the beginning of the week were energized Friday by the initial wave of upbeat results. So far into the earnings season, 16 of the 30 Dow components have posted financial results for the first three months of the year -- with 10 surpassing analyst forecasts. Dow components Honeywell International Inc., Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), Pfizer Inc., and McDonald's Corp. (MCD) all reported earnings Friday.

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Better-than-expected results allowed stocks to extend their best April rally in four years, and one that pushed the Nasdaq composite and Standard & Poor's 500 to six-year highs. All three major indexes clinched their third straight weekly gain, the longest such streak since October.

The Dow was up 153.35, or 1.20 percent, at 12,961.98, after setting a new intraday high of 12,966.29. The blue-chip index has hit 34 record closes since the beginning of October last year.

Broader stock indicators advanced. The S&P 500 index was up 13.62, or 0.93 percent, at 1,484.35, and the Nasdaq rose 21.04, or 0.84 percent, to 2,526.39.

Bonds held steady as many investors focused on stocks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 4.67 percent. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices spiked.

Oil prices rose ahead of the presidential election in Nigeria, which is Africa's top producer of crude. A barrel of light sweet crude rose rose $1.55 to settle at $63.38 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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