NEW YORK - Encouraging news about the U.S. economy extended the stock market's rally Friday.
A gauge of future economic activity rose more than analysts had expected, as did a measure of consumer confidence, adding to evidence that the economy is steadily recovering.
Stocks closed higher for a fourth straight week. Indexes are at record levels after surging this year on optimism about the economy and record corporate earnings. The market is also being supported by ongoing stimulus from the Federal Reserve, which is keeping long-term borrowing costs at historically low levels.
"This slow but relatively steady growth, that keeps inflation in check and keeps interest rates low, is actually a pretty healthy environment for the stock market," said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co.
General Motors rose $1.03, or 3.2 percent, to $33.42. The automaker's stock is trading above the $33 price of its November 2010 initial public offering for the first time in two years.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 121.18 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,354.40. The index gained 1.6 percent for the week.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 17.00 points, or 1 percent, to 1,667.47. The gauge rose 2 percent this week and has gained 16.8 percent this year.
The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent last month after a revised decline of 0.2 percent in March. The index is intended to predict how the economy will be doing in three to six months.