NEW YORK - Optimistic that Wall Street will be able to extend its October rally, investors sent stocks sharply higher Friday, giving the market's three major indexes their third-straight winning week.
Analysts said investors were generally feeling upbeat after strong gains the previous two weeks and were putting aside fears - at least temporarily - that Wall Street's current advance is a bear-market rally that will give up its gains.
"The market definitely has been feeling the path of least resistance in the upward direction. It's almost a regardless-of-the-news type of rally," said Arthur Hogan, the chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 126.65, or 1.5 percent, to close at 8,443.99. That came after dropping 176.93 points Thursday on investor concerns that a rally in the previous two weeks was too much, too soon.
The broader market also finished higher. The Nasdaq composite index rose 32.42, or 2.5 percent, to 1,331.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 15.15, or 1.7 percent, to 897.65.
All three gauges had their third-consecutive winning week, a feat not seen since the period ended Aug. 23. The Dow finished the week up 1.5 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 3.4 percent and the S&P climbed 1.5 percent.
"The big-picture economic and earnings data has been so-so, but the market is holding its own," said Bryan Piskorowski, the market commentator at Prudential Securities. "The data suggests we shouldn't be going up, up and away, so we're getting a sloppy, sideways kind of action."
Analysts say investors have become more hopeful after the two-week rally on better-than-expected earnings boosted stocks. Since hitting a five-year low Oct. 9, the Dow has gained more than 1,100 points.
But stocks remain vulnerable to bouts of profit-taking as investors worry about the market's long-term recovery. Lingering uncertainties, including a possible war with Iraq and the strength of the economy, also continue to pressure the market, analysts said.
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