Stocks end higher for second week

By Alexandra Twin, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- Stocks ended a choppy session higher Friday, with the market managing to carve out a second consecutive week of gains as buyers dipped back in after the May sell-off.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 16 points or 0.2%, the S&P 500 index (SPX) added 1 point or 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) added 2 points or 0.1%.

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The Dow gained 2.3%, the S&P gained 2.4% and the Nasdaq gained 3%. Stocks rallied last week as well.

Investors contended Friday with the quadruple options expiration, a quarterly event in which stock index future and options and individual stock futures and options were all expiring simultaneously. The process can create increased volatility in the underlying issues, particularly in the last hour of trade.

But stocks were a bit directionless amid a lack of market-moving corporate or economic news - and the fact that it was a Friday before a summer weekend. The direction over the short term is likely to stay volatile.

"It's going to be pretty choppy until the next big monthly jobs report comes out and the second-quarter earnings start in," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management.

He said that on the upside, the correction that took the S&P 500 down about 14% in six weeks seems to be over for now. However, any gains in the weeks ahead are likely to be tepid amid the summer doldrums and ongoing questions about both Europe and the United States economy.

Worries about the fiscal debt crisis and the fallout from the BP oil spill were among the factors that led to the market's sell-off. Both issues continue to influence markets, but less dramatically than they did a month ago.

COMEX gold for August delivery closed up $9.60 at a record high of $1258.30. Gold hit a trading record of $1,263.70 during the session.

The week ahead brings reports on housing, jobs and the latest policy meeting from the Federal Reserve.

Europe: Stocks managed to rise Thursday at the end of a choppy session in which tepid reports on jobs and manufacturing vied with positive news out of Europe, where an auction of Spanish bonds saw strong demand.

With Greece's fiscal problems well known, the focus of late has turned to Spain and its ballooning debt, amid talk that it might need a bailout from European officials.

On Friday, European officials said Greece was moving forward in its efforts to cut its deficit. Separately, officials said they would release results of bank "stress tests," much as the U.S. did in the aftermath of the bank crisis here.

BP: Shares of BP (BP) ended little changed, erasing morning gains.

Investors weighed news that Moody's has downgraded its debt by three notches, but still kept it at investment grade. Fellow ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut BP's debt Thursday as the oil firm continues to struggle in the aftermath of the Gulf spill.

On Thursday, BP's CEO Tony Hayward was grilled by U.S. lawmakers who lambasted him for being oblivious to the risks that led to the spill and for not cooperating fully with investigators in its aftermath.

Earlier this week, BP said it was canceling its quarterly dividend and agreed with President Obama's request that it establish a $20 billion fund to cover Gulf damages.

On the move: Gains petered out with just select shares rising. Among the Dow's movers, Boeing (BA, Fortune 500), Caterpillar (CAT, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, Fortune 500) all gained.

Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers eight to seven on volume of 1.77 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners seven to six on volume of 1.56 billion shares.

Euro: The euro was barely changed versus the dollar, which fell 0.4% against the yen.

World markets: European markets were little changed. Britain's FTSE 100 ended just below unchanged, Germany's DAX lost 0.1% and France's CAC 40 climbed 0.1%.

Asian markets were mixed. Japan's Nikkei was little changed, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7%, China's Shanghai Composite lost 1.8%.

Commodities: U.S. light crude oil for July delivery rose 39 cents to settle at $77.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Bonds: Treasury prices tumbled, raising the yield on the 10-year note to 3.22% from 3.19% late Thursday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
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