Stocks: Best 3-month run since '07

Wall Street ends May with solid gains as stocks stage late-session rally at the end of a rocky day. Dow gains 97 points; S&P, Nasdaq up over 1%.

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By Ben Rooney, staff writer

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NEW YORK( -- Stocks ended a choppy session higher Friday after a late-session rally pushed the major indexes to their biggest three-month run since 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 97 points, or 1.1%, according to early tallies. The broader S&P 500 (SPX) gained 12 points, or 1.3%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) advanced by 12 points, or 1.3%.

Friday's advance caps an upbeat week for Wall Street. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 4.6% over the last 5 trading days. The S&P 500 rose 3.4% and the Dow gained 2.5%.

For the month, the Dow jumped 3.8%, while the S&P 500 rose 5.2% and the Nasdaq advanced 3.6%. May's gains mark the first time stocks have risen for three consecutive months since October 2007.

Stocks had seesawed for most of the session but began to move higher in the last hour of trade, with blue-chip stocks like IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) and Coca Cola Inc. (KO, Fortune 500) leading advancers on the Dow.

Strong oil prices lifted energy shares, which helped prop up the broader market.

"On the upside, the market was propelled by higher oil prices lifting the energy sector," said Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist at The Hartford. But gains were limited by "the dollar weakening and pressure in the bond market," she added.

Rising oil prices have helped lift the markets in recent days. Oil prices have jumped around 30% this month, marking the largest monthly rise since March 1999. Crude closed above $66 a barrel as the dollar fell to a 5-month low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 3.46% as its price ticked up.

Stocks rose Thursday after a government debt auction elicited solid demand, tempering fears that borrowing costs would rise. The major gauges all added about 1%.

Meanwhile, Monday brings a new month and a new week. The old adage "sell in May and go away" may be just adage. Stocks do not, in fact, always fare so poorly in the summer months that 'going away' is a good idea. (Full story)

Economy: The government said first-quarter gross domestic product fell at a revised annual rate of 5.7%, narrower than the originally reported 6.1%. Economists expected the revision to result in a 5.5% rate of decline.

A measure of business activity in the Midwest surprisingly fell in May. The ISM-Chicago Purchasing Managers Index dropped to 34.9 in May from 40.1 in April, signaling contraction. Economists had expected it to rise to 42.

Companies: After the stock market closed Thursday, Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) reported a drop in sales and earnings. The company said a slowdown in PC sales pressured its bottom line.

Before the opening bell Friday, luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. (TIF) reported first-quarter earnings of 20 cents per share, slightly lower than the 21-cent-per-share profit analysts had expected. But the jewelry maker maintained its full-year earnings forecast.

Activist investor William Ackman's quest to overhaul the board of Target (TGT, Fortune 500) fell flat at the retailer's annual shareholder meeting. None of Ackman's candidates for the board won a seat.

Shares of General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) fell below $1 for the first time since the Great Depression as the troubled automaker appeared set to enter bankruptcy despite winning key concessions from the United Auto Workers.

Bonds: Treasury prices rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note slipping to 3.46% from 3.67% Thursday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The yield on the 10-year note jumped to a 6-month high of 3.71% earlier this week, raising fears that higher borrowing costs, particularly mortgage rates, could hinder an economic recovery.

Other markets: Stocks around the world rose on the back of Wall Street's rally. In Japan, the Nikkei added nearly 1%. European markets closed higher.

In currency trading, the dollar plummeted against major international currencies. The dollar index, which measures the greenback's performance against a basket of other currencies, sank to a session low of 79.287, its lowest since mid-December.

NYMEX oil for July delivery rose $1.23 to settle at $66.31 a barrel. It was the highest closing price since Nov. 4, when crude settled at $70.53.

COMEX gold for August delivery gained $17.30 an ounce to settle at $978.80. To top of page

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