Modest Rise Gives Stocks A Third Straight Week of Gains 

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks closed modestly higher Friday, giving the market its third straight week of gains.

Consumer staples and health-care stocks were among the biggest risers as investors assessed the latest company earnings and economic news.

After several weeks speculating about the implications of a slowdown in China and the timing of an interest- rate increase by the Federal Reserve, traders are tuned into company earnings as they hunt for insight into how the global economy is doing.

The Dow rose 74.22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,215.97. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 9.25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,033.11. The Nasdaq composite added 16.59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,886.69.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 3.2 percent this year. The Dow and S&P 500 are still negative. The Dow is down 3.4 percent, while the S&P 500 is off 1.3 percent.

The three major stock indexes began the day slightly higher, then wavered after midday. The indexes slipped into the red at times before drifting back into positive territory.

Investors appeared to brush off some discouraging economic data, including a Federal Reserve report indicating that U.S. manufacturing production fell for the second straight month in September. A separate Labor Department report showed that employers advertised fewer job openings in August and kept hiring flat. The job market has weakened the past two months, reflecting slower global economic growth.

Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 rose. Healthcare and consumer staples stocks each gained about 1 percent. The industrials sector declined 0.2 percent.

GE reported a decline in third-quarter profit, but strong performances from its core units helped the company top Wall Street expectations. GE rose 95 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $28.98.

Third-quarter earnings are forecast to contract overall as falling energy prices and weak global demand start to eat into profits.

The earnings season hits a peak next week with scores of major companies scheduled to report results including Morgan Stanley, Boeing, General Motors, and Microsoft.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.6 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent. In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi inched down 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China was up 1.6 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.1 percent, aided by expectations that the country’s central bank will come up with more stimulus measures this month or next.

In energy futures trading, Benchmark U.S. crude added 88 cents to close at $47.26 in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 73 cents to close at $50.46 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2.1 cents to close at $1.328 a gallon, while heating oil rose 1 cent to close at $1.497 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2.3 cents to close at $2.43 per 1,000 cubic feet.

U.S. government bond prices didn’t budge. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.02 percent. The euro was little changed at $1.1349 while the dollar edged up to 119.49 yen.

In metals trading, gold fell $4.40 to $1,183.10 an ounce, silver declined five cents to $16.11 an ounce and copper lost two cents to settle at $2.40 a pound.