NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks rose once again on Friday, gaining ground for a third straight session to keep September's rally on track.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 48 points, or 0.5 %, at 10,463. Its high for the day was 10,471. The strong finish pushed the blue-chip index's gain so far in September to 4.4%, bucking the historical trend that casts the month as a weak one for equities. The Dow has now risen in six of September's seven trading sessions.
The S&P 500 added 5 points, or 0.5%, to wrap up the week at 1,108, while Nasdaq lagged slightly, gaining just 6 points, or 0.3%, to close at 2,242.While overall breadth within the Dow was positive with advancers outnumbering decliners 22 to 8, tech stocks were among the worst performers in Friday's session after leading semiconductor companies lowered their October quarter outlooks, citing slowing demand for PCs. Capital Goods, healthcare and energy stocks however, pushed markets higher. Chevron (CVX) and IBM (IBM) were the Dow's biggest gainers, while American Express (AXP) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) were the main laggards among the blue chips. Volumes were still relatively light, indicating many investors are still on the sidelines, awaiting more confirmation that the economy is on the road to recovery. The Commerce Department said on Friday that wholesale inventories increased 1.3% in July from the revised June level, the highest increase in two years and much higher than the 0.4% economists expected, according to Briefing.com. A rise in wholesale inventories is considered a predictor of higher retail sales. The inventory report is the latest in a series of recent economic data in the last two weeks that has helped to ease investors concerns about the economy. Despite the recent positive news flow, Barbara Marcin, portfolio manager of the Gabelli Blue Chip Value Fund, expects the economy's growth in the next year or two to continue to stall. "I don't see anything to contradict another year of really slow growth, if any," she said. "Even if there is an improvement in the manufacturing numbers which will be out next week, we are still so far behind the level we were in 2007. You don't have a need for more spending or hiring." Marcin said markets will have periods of momentum back and forth but did not expect a rerating in valuations, even though stocks were fairly valued, so long as the country's deficit problems remained unresolved. President Obama's nationally televised press conference was another highlight on Friday trading. President Obama took the opportunity to announce his appointment of Austan Goolsbee as Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Goolsbee will replace Christina Romer, an economist with the University of California, who resigned last month to return to the school. In his speech, the President urged Congress to back his plan for small businesses. He also took Republicans to task on the issue of extending tax cuts to the wealthy. He said Republicans were holding middle-class tax relief "hostage" in order to extend tax relief to millionaires and billionaires who did not need help. Athletic apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica (LULU) was among the day's strongest gainers. The stock soared 13% to $40.57 after it beat analyst expectations. Net revenues rose 55% to $152.2 million and profits jumped 139% to $34.2 million or 30 cents per share. Analysts expected the company to post a profit of 24 cents per share on revenue of $145.89 million.
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