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Dow Regains 10,000 Despite Weak GDP

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Dow recaptured the 10,000 level and stocks surged Friday as investors accelerated bargin-hunting right into the closing bell.

The market set aside a glum outlook from Dow component Intel (INTC), and instead drew a measure of comfort from a downward revision to second-quarter gross domestic product that wasn't as deep as expected, and suitably somber comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about the nation's economic outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average leapt higher by 165 points, or 1.7%, to close at 10,151. The S&P 500 finished up 17 points, also a 1.7% gain, at 1,065 while the Nasdaq rose 35 points, or 1.7% to 2,154. On Thursday, the Dow closed below 10,000 for the first time since July 6, and it sank as low as 9,936 early in Friday's trading before rebounding.

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Still each of the major market averages finished to the downside for the week. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the way, dropping 1.2%. The Dow finished lower by 0.6%, and the S&P 500 lost 0.7% since last Friday's close.

Adding to the market's calculus was a good old-fashioned bidding war in the tech space. 3Par (PAR) had decided to accept Dell's (DELL) offer to acquire the data storage company for $1.8 billion, or $27 a share, a consideration that matched Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) sweetened bid on Thursday.

But HP complicated matters by raising its offer yet again Friday morning, going to $30 a share. 3Par's stock soared 24.5% to $32.40 and Dell's stock went ahead by 1.2% to $11.89. Shares of Hewlett-Packard traded 0.6% lower to $38.

The most anticipated event of Friday's session, however, was Fed chief Bernanke's speech on the economic outlook at the Kansas City Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Advance text of the speech was released and investors initially sent stocks scurrying in its wake.

While Bernanke highlighted the slowing economy, expectations for a growth rise in 2011, and made strong statements about fighting deflation, he also outlined a few policy tools if action is needed. Though the chairman didn't offer hints on a drastically reconfigured Fed policy, which may have disappointed some market observers looking for those signs, many were feeling somewhat comforted afterward.

"Bernanke fulfilled his fatherly role to the markets, saying things are tough, but they're not that bad. And he said if things get worse, 'I've got some ideas. I've got some ways to address the market,'" said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners, who also said Intel (INTC) revised guidance, announced around the same time, may have helped take stocks lower initially. "He's telling us what we want to hear. [The economy is] not the greatest, but it's not the worst. When you read the summary of Bernanke's speech, it's not that great. But read the whole thing, and it's not that bad."

The speech followed Friday's release from the Department of Commerce which revised its gross domestic product estimate for the second quarter down to 1.6% from a previous reading of 2.4%. An uptick in imports helped fuel the downward revision. Though the growth rate is well off that seen at the end of last year and the first quarter of this year, the revision still modestly exceeded expectations for growth of 1.4% that economists had been expecting, according to Briefing.com.

"The comments by the Fed chairman took a little heat off the markets. Buyers have largely been waiting for some kind of rebound. Put that together with slightly better-than-expected, but still disappointing GDP and that is giving investors confidence to step in and pick up some bargains," Pavlik continued, also noting the S&P managed to hold the 1040 level. "When stocks get down to levels that are close to what they were at the beginning of July, I think some buyer might have been using that as the focal point."

The University of Michigan also gave its final read on August consumer sentiment, saying its gauge edged lower to read 68.9. According to Briefing.com, Wall Street expected the level to rise to 70, from a previous reading of 69.6.

Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

Japan's prime minister assured that he would take decisive action when necessary regarding the strengthening yen and has pressured the Bank of Japan to loosen its monetary policy, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Hewlett-Packard was the lone Dow component to finish in negative territory today. Meanwhile, DuPont (DD), Alcoa (AA), Caterpillar (CAT) and Boeing (BA) led the average higher.

Boeing (BA) pushed back the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner to the first quarter of 2011, citing engine availability problems. Shares added 3.1% to $63.20.

Intel also cut its third-quarter revenue projections. Intel shares, however, finished up 19 cents to $18.37.

Activist investor Carl Icahn also upped his stake in Motorola (MOT), adding another $86 million in shares and pushing his interest up to 10.4%, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shares traded higher by 2.4% to $7.68.

Tiffany (TIF) said fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 19% to $67.7 million, or 53 cents a share. Excluding certain items, the company earned 55 cents, beating the 53-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Briefing.com. The upscale jeweler also raised its full-year outlook to ahead of what Wall Street had been expecting. The stock lost 3.2% to $40.68.

Late Thursday, TD Ameritrade (AMTD) disclosed a deal to repurchase up to 12 million shares of its common stock from Barclays (BCS). Its stock was gained 1.6% to $14.96.

Solar cell manufacturer SunPower (SPWRA) got an upgrade to buy from hold at Soleil Securities today, which helped lift its shares 11.9% to $11.22.

Tanker firm Frontline (FRO) easily beat profit estimates in the morning, reporting adjusted earnings of 92 cents a share in the second-quarter. But shares were stumbled 2.1% at $26.72, likely, in part, due to comments suggesting a weaker third quarter.

In commodity markets, crude oil for October delivery gained $1.81 to finish the session at $75.17 a barrel, while the December gold contract settled higher by 20 cents at $1,237.90 an ounce.

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