Stocks Gain for Fourth Week

U.S. stocks on Friday advanced to a fourth weekly gain, as encouraging economic data prompted investors to pick up shares of growth companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 121.18 points, or 0.80%, to 15,354.40. The S&P 500 index climbed 17.00 points, or 1.03%, to 1,667.47. The Nasdaq Composite added 33.73 points, or 0.97%, to 3,498.97. For the week, the Dow advanced 1.6 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 2 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1.8 percent.

Americans’ confidence in the economy climbed in May to the highest level in almost six years as rising real estate values and record stock prices boosted household wealth. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment increased to 83.7, the highest since July 2007, from 76.4 in April, a report today showed.

Solid hiring helped lower unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show the job market is improving throughout most of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates increased in only three states: Louisiana, Tennessee and North Dakota. Rates were unchanged in seven states.

Congress’ nonpartisan budget analyst says President Barack Obama’s budget would trim projected federal deficits by $1.1 trillion over the coming decade.The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that after four straight years of annual shortfalls exceeding $1 trillion, Obama’s budget would leave this year’s deficit at $669 billion.

Powerball officials say the jackpot has climbed to an estimated $600 million, making it the largest prize in the game’s history and the world’s second largest lottery prize.

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