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DOW ENDS TOP MONTH WITH 492.32-POINT GAIN

SHARE DOW ENDS TOP MONTH WITH 492.32-POINT GAIN

Stocks rose as interest rates sank Friday, capping one of the best months ever for the Dow Jones industrials and lifting the Nasdaq market to another high in an abbreviated day-after-Thanksgiving session.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.36 to 6,521.70, bringing November's stunning advance to 492.32 points, or nearly 8.2 percent. The point-gain easily beat the Dow's previous one-month record of 319 in November 1995, but in the percentage-gain was far short of the 40.2 percent advance the Dow logged more than 60 years ago in April 1933.The technology-rich Nasdaq composite index notched its fifth straight record close, rising 5.29 to 1,292.61, as bellwether computer-related shares continued to lead the market.

Once again, stocks took their cue from bonds, which rallied after two reports that reinforced the widespread notion of a moderating economy that may keep inflation under control without an increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Bonds were also lifted by the continued strength of the dollar, which has made U.S. securities more attractive for foreign investors who convert their profits to other currencies.

As bond prices rose, the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond - a key determinant of corporate and consumer borrowing costs - fell to 6.35 percent. The last time the yield finished that low was 6.33 percent on March 4, just days before an inflation scare sent rates soaring, dragging down stocks.

The Commerce Department reported Friday morning that personal consumption spending rose by 0.5 percent in October after a lackluster 0.1 percent advance in September. The government also said personal income growth was flat in October after strong 0.6 percent gains in both August and September.

The markets have been rallying since late summer amid optimism for a moderate economic pace that can support profit growth without aggravating inflationary pressures. Analysts agree with that steady outlook, asserting that there's little danger that growth will slow so much that the economy will topple into recession. A healthy holiday-selling season will be pivotal to that assessment.

"The reports more or less confirm that the economy certainly has slowed to a somewhat modest pace, but it certainly hasn't stopped," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp. "The numbers seem to suggest that there's enough confidence among consumers that they're willing to spend. That suggests that the holiday season is likely to be good."

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 7-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume totaled 149.53 million shares at the 1 p.m. close. That compares with 227.59 million at the same point on Wednesday and 377.65 million for Wednesday's full session.

The S&P 500 rose 2.02 to 757.02, just 0.01 shy of Monday's record close. The NYSE's composite index rose 0.95 to 398.43 after briefly moving above Monday's high at 398.86.

The American Stock Exchange's market value index rose 2.84 to 591.48.

The Dow's best performer was General Electric, up 11/2 to 104, followed by IBM, up 11/4 to 1593/8.

Among Nasdaq technology shares, U.S. Robotics jumped 51/8 to 785/8 after late Wednesday's announcement that its faster modems would be offered with a line of computers produced by Dell, which rose 15/8 to 1015/8.

U.S. financial markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, and most held abbreviated sessions on Friday.

Overseas, Tokyo's Nikkei stock average fell 0.1 percent, Frankfurt's DAX index rose 1.0 percent, and London's FT-SE 100 rose 0.2 percent.