Dow: Longest bull run in 80 years

Major gauges hit new milestones, but just barely; investors mull jobs report, oil prices, talk of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger.

By Alexandra Twin and Steve Hargreaves, writers

NEW YORK ( -- The Dow Jones industrial average squeaked out another record high Friday, making this the longest bull run in 80 years, as investors cheered tame inflation numbers, talk of big mergers and a jobs report that appeared just right.

The Dow (up 6.42 to 13,247.80, Charts) ended up about 0.2 percent, according to early tallies. It's the fourth record close for the Dow in a row. The blue-chip leader also set a new intraday high of 13,284.53.


The Dow has now risen in 23 of the last 26 sessions, marking its longest bull run since the summer of 1927, when the indicator ended higher in 24 of 27 sessions, according to Dow Jones.

The broader S&P 500 (up 2.11 to 1,504.50, Charts) index also rose about 0.2 percent after ending the previous session above 1,500 for the first time since the third quarter of 2000. The S&P 500 is not far from its all-time high of 1527.46 hit in March 2000 at the tail end of the 1990's tech boom-fueled bull run.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (up 2.92 to 2,568.38, Charts) ended up about 0.4 percent, at a 6-year high.

Oil fell more than a dollar, while bonds and the dollar gained.

Here's what moved the markets Friday:

Stocks rose in the morning, extending the recent rally as investors welcomed the April jobs report, lower oil prices and talk of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger. But after pushing the major gauges to the new highs, investors backed off a bit.

"I think people are thinking it's the weekend, and there's a lot of money that's been made recently," said Michael Parness, head of the trading and research firm "But I'm certainly not going to call tops here."

The run has reflected stronger than expected first-quarter earnings, the spate of mergers and other deals news and economic news that suggests that growth is slowing at a moderate pace and that inflation is moderating.

"It's pretty much playing out according to the plan that [Fed Chairman] Bernanke laid out for a soft landing," said Douglas Roberts, managing principal at Channel Capital Research.

The jobs report Friday seemed to support the so-called soft landing scenario, Roberts added.

Employers added 88,000 jobs in April, the smallest monthly number in over two years, and short of forecasts for 100,000 jobs added. Employers added an upwardly revised 177,000 jobs in March.

The unemployment rate, generated by a separate survey, rose to 4.5 percent from 4.4 percent, as expected.

Average hourly earnings, the report's inflation component, rose a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent after rising 0.3 percent in March.

Taken as a whole the report seemed to suggest growth is slowing enough to take the edge off inflationary pressures, but not so much as to drive the economy into a recession, all of which raised bets that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates later this year.

Fed policy makers are meeting next week and are expected to hold rates steady at 5.25 percent for the 7th meeting in a row.

In corporate news, Microsoft (down $0.45 to $30.52, Charts, Fortune 500) is considering entering formal merger negotiations with Yahoo (up $2.82 to $31.00, Charts, Fortune 500), according to published reports. Yahoo shares surged 17 percent, while Microsoft shares slipped almost 2 percent.

In addition, Reuters (up $19.34 to $78.26, Charts) group confirmed it has received a takeover offer from a third party. Shares jumped 26 percent.

Interactive Brokers Group (Charts) gained 5 percent in its first day as a publicly-traded company, one day after the options-trading firm raised $1.2 billion with an initial public offering.

On the downside, QLogic (down $1.27 to $16.55, Charts) reported weaker fourth-quarter profit that missed estimates and warned that first-quarter earnings and revenue won't meet estimates. Shares of the supplier of gear for computer data storage networks slipped 7 percent Friday.

Market breadth was positive. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners topped losers 9 to 7 on volume of 1.17 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers edged out decliners on volume of 1.83 billion shares.

Treasury prices rose on bets that the Fed is bound to cut rates sooner than raise them, lowering the yield on the 10-year note to about 4.64 percent from 4.67 percent late Thursday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

In currency trading, the dollar slipped against the euro and the yen.

U.S. light crude oil for June delivery fell $1.26 to settle at $61.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

COMEX gold for June delivery rose $5.30 to settle at $689.20 an ounce. Top of page