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Street logs fourth week of gains


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POSTED: Saturday, April 04, 2009

NEW YORK » Not even grisly job losses could get in the stock market's way yesterday.

The Dow Jones industrial average clawed higher to end above 8,000 for the first time in nearly two months, and logged an impressive fourth straight week of gains.

The last time the Dow rose for four consecutive weeks was between September and October of 2007 - when the index reached its record above 14,000.

Wall Street's newfound confidence kept swelling this week on better-than-expected economic data, a relaxation in bank accounting rules, and reassurances from the world's finance leaders that they will keep propping up the global economy. The Labor Department's March unemployment report on yesterday was the week's last big hurdle.

The job numbers were certainly grim, but not terrible enough to derail the emerging sense of optimism over the past four months that the economy may be beginning to right itself. The Dow finished the week up 3.1 percent.

Traders are reacting more moderately to bad news than they might have even a month ago, said Tom Phillips, president of TS Phillips Investments in Oklahoma City.

"If the expectation was for truly horrendous numbers and they're only ugly, that's a good thing," he said.

Employers slashed a net total of 663,000 jobs last month, slightly worse than the 654,000 economists expected. The employment rate jumped to 8.5 percent, its highest level since late 1983, when the economy was emerging from another deep recession.

The Dow yesterday climbed 39.51, or 0.5 percent, to 8,017.59 - the index's highest close since Feb. 9, when the index ended at 8,270.87. On March 9, the index sank to a nearly 12-year low of 6,547.05, but it's now 22.5 percent above that trough.

The Dow's rally has been its biggest four-week advance since 1933.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.12, or 1 percent, to 842.50 on Friday. The Nasdaq composite index rose 19.24, or 1.2 percent, at 1,621.87, helped by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., whose shares surged on better-than-expected profits.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.94, or 1.3 percent, to 456.13.

Treasurys fell as investors entered riskier assets. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.90 percent from 2.76 percent late Thursday.