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Dow Keeps Streak Alive

Merger talk, including a potential deal for Yahoo!, helps stocks rise.

Updated from 4:16 p.m. EDT

Stocks in the U.S. edged to the upside Friday as a new round of deal talk, including a potential bid for Internet giant



, let traders look past a slightly soft employment report.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 23.24 points, or 0.18%, to 13,264.62, giving the index its seventh record close in the last eight days. The Dow set an all-time intraday high of 13,283.31 earlier, buoyed by a 2.2% gain in component


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S&P 500

added 3.23 points, or 0.21%, at 1505.62, and the


tacked on 6.69 points, or 0.26%, at 2572.15.

The market ended yet another week solidly higher. While collecting four consecutive record finishes, the Dow gained 1.1% over the five sessions. The S&P 500 was higher by 0.7%, and the Nasdaq added 0.6%.

About 2.81 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers beating decliners by a 3-to-2 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached 2.29 billion shares, with winners outpacing losers 8 to 7.

Leading the news was a spate of merger speculation in the media and publishing space. Headlining the various chatter was a report that


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is preparing to go after Web search concern Yahoo! in what could be a blockbuster tie-up of tech titans.

According to the

New York Post

, Microsoft wants Yahoo! to enter formal discussions for what the report said could be a $50 billion transaction. Yahoo! surged nearly 10% to end at $30.98, while Microsoft dipped 41 cents, or 1.3%, to $30.56.

Elsewhere, the U.K.'s



news service said it has been approached by a potential buyer it didn't name. The stock soared $15.84, or 26.9%, to end the day at $74.76.

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Meanwhile, Britain's


climbed in London trading after it said it has received buyout offers. According to the

Financial Times



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private-equity division is one of the potential acquirers.

Already this week,

Dow Jones


, the publisher of

The Wall Street Journal

, said it's being courted by Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul behind

News Corp.

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The family that controls Dow Jones has been split on the possible transaction, and the company's board said it wouldn't take any action for the time being.

Separately, benign employment numbers from the Labor Department suggested the

Federal Reserve

could be less inclined to push through new rate hikes, but at the same sparked some concern about the state of the economy.

The jobs report, one of the most important pieces of data the government releases every month, showed that 88,000 workers were added to U.S. payrolls in April. Economists had expected 100,000 positions to have been created.

The jobless rate rose to 4.5% from 4.4%, as had been anticipated. Average hourly earnings, a key inflation metric, rose a less-than-expected 0.2%.

In what is becoming fairly normal, job growth for the prior two months was revised, except this time the changes were to the downside. The government now says 26,000 fewer employees were put to work in March and February than had been first thought.

While jobs growth slowed, the small rise in wage growth could provide inflation comfort to the Fed. The central bank will meet for third time this year on May 9, but no change in the target fed funds rate is expected.

Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, said that the somewhat slower employment growth in April is consistent with the recent pickup in productivity and a modestly expanding economy.

"Moderate growth and rising labor productivity should keep wage inflation in check," he said. "Surging corporate profits, moderate growth and steady interest rates at home, and more robust foreign demand for U.S. equities should power up U.S. stock prices."

Among subsector indices, the Amex Airline Index finished with a 1.7% gain, and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector Index climbed 1.1%. On the losing side, the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index dipped 0.2%, and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index ended with a 0.1% loss.

Bond prices moved higher after the data. The 10-year note was up 10/32 in price, yielding 4.64%, and the 30-year bond was advancing 17/32 to yield 4.80%.

As for commodities, June crude futures dropped $1.26 to $61.93 a barrel, a decline of 6.8% for the week. Gold was higher by $5.30 to finish at $689.70 an ounce, and silver tacked on 2 cents to end the week at $13.53 an ounce.

Overseas, stocks in Europe and Asia were on the rise. London's FTSE gained 1% to 6603, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was up 0.5% at 7517. The Paris Cac 40 added 0.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.8%, and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.5%.