U.S. stocks began higher on Friday as economic data illustrated increased demand for American goods overseas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7 points to 11,377. United Tech is higher after reaffirming estimates. The S&P 500 Index climbed a point to 1,234 while the Nasdaq Composite rose 2 points to 2,619. Wallstreet seems to be warming up to an improving economy. Last night PIMCO raised US growth forecasts for next year. This morning JP Morgan upped their GDP growth forecasts for 2011 to 3.5%. Not bad. The good news doesn't seem to be translating into gains for the market at least in the short term. On the earnings front, Green Mountain Coffee is down 10% on conservative guidance. National Semi is down 6% even though they beat estimates. Jackson Hewitt is up 17% after beating estimates. A number of stocks are jumping on takeovers or rumors. Tenet Healthcare is jumping 50% after accepting a takeover from Community Health Systems. Community is jumping 7% as well. Rackspace is higher on rumors of a takeover. A couple of companies are raising their dividends. A REIT, Capstead Mortgage significantly raised their dividend. The stock is up 2%. Verisign is higher after announcing a special $3 dividend. Occidental Petroleum also raised their dividend. The financials are mixed following consecutive up days. M&T Bank is higher on an upgrade. JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs look good. In the tech space Netflix and F5 Networks are higher after being added to the S&P 500. Intel and Research in Motion are higher on upgrades. After the first hour the averages remained range bound. The commodities opened lower, but are now battling back. Heading into the lunch hour the averages snuck into the green. GE is up 2% after raising their dividend for the second time in the last six months. In the afternoon the averages slowly improved. Honeywell is higher after hiking their dividend. All of a sudden everyone is hiking their dividends. In the last hour the averages kept improving moved back toward the highs of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 40 points at 11,410, lifted by a 3.4% gain in shares of General Electric. For the week, the Dow rose 0.3%. The broad S&P 500 index gained 7 points to 1,240, a two-year high. It gained 1.3% for the week. The Nasdaq Composite rose 20 points to 2,637, tallying a 1.8% weekly gain.
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