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Stocks rise as oil prices keep sliding

NEW YORK — A continued slide in oil prices gave Wall Street a moderate advance Friday, with earnings from Dell Inc. and a labor deal at General Motors Corp. feeding the gains. The major indexes ended the week more than 1 percent higher, their third straight winning week.

Volume was light with the Treasury market closed for Veterans Day and many traders taking the day off. Friday's advance was fueled by momentum from three weeks of strong gains, said Jay Suskind, head trader at Ryan, Beck & Co.

"I think it's going to be tough to draw conclusions because of the lack of participation," Suskind said. "Next week, you'll start to hear about technical levels of the indices. People will be wondering, 'Can we break through and really continue this year-end rally?' "

Suskind added that lower oil is improving the consumer picture ahead of the critical holiday shopping season. A recent slide in crude futures has eased worries that record gas prices will eat into household income and weigh on year-end retail spending.

Meanwhile, technology stocks moved higher as Dell's lackluster results were not as bad as feared, and media conglomerate News Corp. rose after its operating profit — before a hefty accounting charge — beat analysts' estimates.

At the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 45.94, or 0.43 percent, to 10,686.04, its highest close since Aug. 3. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 3.76, or 0.31 percent, at 1,234.72, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 5.79, or 0.26 percent, to 2,202.47.

Crude oil has dropped to its lowest levels since summer following recent reports of expanding supplies and weaker demand. A barrel of light crude was down 27 cents to settle at $57.53 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Also Friday, the RBC CASH index, based on polling by Ipsos, showed that consumer confidence rebounded in November to a reading of 81. That marked an improvement from October's 66.8 and September's showing of 61.5, the lowest since early March 2003.

For the week, the Dow advanced 1.47 percent, the S&P 500 added 1.19 percent and the Nasdaq was higher by 1.52 percent.

Ed Peters, chief investment strategist for PanAgora Asset Management, said he believes the market will make a final push — not just because of the traditional year-end rally, but also as positive economic numbers brighten investors' moods.

"By December, we will have a much clearer idea of the impact of the hurricanes, and of higher oil prices," Peters said. "I think the market will find it overreacted. We'll probably see an improvement."