Third week of gains for US stocks

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The Dow Jones industrials rose 73.11 points to close at 12,391.25

The Dow Jones industrial average has continued climbing, notching its third straight week of gains.

The Dow has lost ground only three days in February. The average of 30 large companies rose 1% this week and 4.2% for the month.

The broader Standard&Poor’s 500 index gained 1% this week and is up 4.4% in February. Better manufacturing reports and stronger earnings have pushed stocks higher this month.

Caterpillar rose 2.4% to lead the Dow. The company said sales of its heavy construction and mining equipment surged 49% last month. However, Alcoa fell 1.4%, the largest drop.

The Dow gained 73.11 points, or 0.6%, to close at 12,391.25. The S&P 500 rose 2.58 points, or 0.2%, to 1,343.01. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.37, or less than 0.1%, to 2,833.95.

The Nasdaq is now 25 points away from reaching a 10-year high.

Finance ministers and central bankers from countries in the Group of 20 met in Paris on Friday to discuss issues affecting the global economy. In a speech at the conference, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that countries with large trade surpluses such as China should let their currencies rise in value in order to prevent another financial crisis. He also said that countries with large trade deficits must reduce government spending over time, an apparent reference to the United States.

Campbell Soup fell 4% after the company said its profit fell 8% in its latest quarter. The company also cut its outlook for the rest of its fiscal year. And Intuit jumped 7% after the personal finance software maker raised its forecast for full-year earnings growth late on Thursday.

Rising shares outpaced falling ones by a nearly three to two margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was one billion shares.

Markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

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