Wall Street's wild week ends

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(AP) — The wildest week in Wall Street's history is ending on an up note.

(Photo: Associated Press)

A rebound in retail sales in July helped the stock market push higher Friday. The week has been marked by seesaw trading. The Dow Jones industrial average rose or fell by more than 400 points each of the first four days of the week as investors reacted to concerns about the global economy and Europe's debt problems.

The Dow is finishing with a gain of 125 points, or 1.1 percent, to 11,269.

The S&P 500 is up 6, or 0.5 percent, to 1,279. The Nasdaq is up 15, or 0.6 percent, to 2,508.

Two shares rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was an above average 4.9 billion shares.

A separate government report on Friday showed that businesses increased their stockpiles for the 18th month in a row. Growing inventories typically are a sign of confidence. But nervous consumers have held back recently; in June they cut their spending for the first time in nearly two years.

If the market's gyrations spook consumers, fears that the economy might tip back into recession could become self-fulfilling, analysts said. People might cut back on spending just as retailers stock up for the crucial holiday season. Businesses would slash new orders, and demand for manufacturers' goods would dip.

Investors are already dizzy from seesaw trading driven by concerns about economic growth and a spreading financial crisis in Europe.

In late morning trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index added 9 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,181. The Nasdaq composite index gained 18, or 0.7 percent, to 2,510.

If shares close higher, it will be the first time in more than a month that the market has risen two days in a row. The Dow and the S&P last rose for two trading days on July 6 and 7.

A bath of bad economic news had pummeled markets since before they started their long slide three weeks ago. At Thursday's close, the Dow had fallen more than 12 percent since that date.

The strong retail sales added to a recent trend of more positive data about the economy. The government said last week that hiring picked up in July after two dismal months, though employers still are adding jobs too slowly to significantly reduce unemployment. On Thursday, the government said that applications for unemployment benefits had fallen to a four-month low.

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