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Stocks rise as investors focus on positives

103-point advance leads to another Dow record.

NEW YORK - Wall Street shot higher yesterday after investors shrugged off a mixed reading on the housing sector and focused on the positives: a jump in industrial output, a retreat in crude-oil prices, and new cash pouring into the stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 103 points to another closing record.

Commerce Department data showing that applications for building permits fell in April by the biggest amount in 17 years punctured an early rally. But stocks gradually regained strength, finding support from a Federal Reserve report that industrial output rose more than expected in April, and rebounds in U.S. crude-oil and gasoline inventories that caused crude prices to pull back.

News that billionaires Warren Buffett, Edward Lampert and Carl Icahn were upping equity investments also gave investors confidence that stocks have further to climb, although the Dow has risen more than 1,300 points in the last two months.

Investors seem to be choosing to take weak housing data in stride; a lackluster read on home sales Tuesday upended a big rally in stocks that sent the Dow Jones industrials briefly above 13,400 for the first time, but the market quickly regained its footing yesterday.

"We seem to be in a period of time where it doesn't make a difference what the news is - the market seems to find a reason to go up," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management Inc. "How long will this last? It's anybody's guess."

The Dow rose 103.69, or 0.77 percent, to 13,487.53, its 23d record close of the year. It also hit a new trading high of 13,489.57.

Broader stock indicators advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12.95, or 0.86 percent, to 1,514.14, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.13, or 0.88 percent, to 2,547.42.

Strength in sectors such as airlines, helped by falling oil prices, gave a lift to stocks. United Airlines parent UAL Corp. advanced $1.32, or 4 percent, to $34.62; Continental Airlines Inc. rose $1.48, or 4 percent, to $37.83; and American Airlines parent AMR Corp. gained $1.28, or 5 percent, to $26.66.

Bonds showed little change despite the economic readings. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note remained flat at 4.71 percent from late Tuesday. The dollar was mostly higher against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude fell 62 cents, to $62.55, a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude-oil prices have risen in recent sessions amid concerns about supply disruptions, particularly in Nigeria, but yesterday's U.S. inventory data showed that domestic gasoline and crude inventories rose last week more than expected, a development that investors hope will help pull U.S. pump prices back below $3 a gallon.

Investors also embraced the Fed's report that industrial output rose 0.7 percent in April. The gain was more than double the 0.3 percent that had been expected and in part reflected a rebound in manufacturing. In March, output fell 0.3 percent.