Stocks

Stocks climbed every day last week, lifting the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index to their highest levels in 4 1/2 years and putting both indexes comfortably in the black for the year.

The Nasdaq composite advanced 36 points to 2,263.01, up 4 percent so far this year. The S&P 500 closed 20 points higher at 1,268.25, up 4.7 percent year-to-date.

The long-lagging Dow Jones industrial average moved up in parallel with the other two popular market indexes last week. But after climbing 165 points to 10,931.62, the Dow was up only 1.4 percent for the year and still 53 points short of an earlier peak.

Traders are now counting the days until the Dow fills that gap, which will also put it at its highest level since spring 2001.

They're feeling far more confident about the market than they were a few weeks ago. Gasoline prices have come down, inflation is under control and holiday shopping got off to a fast start. Even with a little pre-Christmas pullback -- widely predicted -- this still could be a pretty good year for the market.

-- Jerry Knight