US stocks advanced on Friday, sending the Dow to a record high and putting the S&P 500 on track for a 7th straight week of gains, as more takeover activity and sentiment data boosted the outlook for equities.
News that consumer sentiment improved more than expected in May despite rising gasoline prices reassured investors about the economy's strength and supported the market.
The Dow notched a record high of 13,551.82 earlier in the session, while the S&P 500 was seven points shy of a record closing high.
Shares of General Electric Co (GE N: Quote, Profile, Research notched their biggest gain in three weeks on news that the conglomerate was close to selling its plastics unit for almost $11 billion. For details see [ID:nN17384387].
"You had the (sentiment) numbers this morning, and we pushed above the 1,515 level on the S&P 500. There's nothing there to hold this market back right now. We're at all-time highs, and the demand is there with all of the merger activity. All of that money is just fueling the market higher," said Mike O'Hare, head of U.S. equity cash sales and trading for JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research was up 60.06 points, or 0.45 percent, at 13,536.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research was up 8.19 points, or 0.54 percent, at 1,520.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research was up 14.74 points, or 0.58 percent, at 2,554.12.
GE shares rose 1.6 percent to $37.12 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stock in Intuit Inc (INTU.O: Quote, Profile, Research was the top advancer on he S&P 500 and Nasdaq. It gained 12.8 percent to $31.26, a day after the maker of TurboTax tax-preparation software announced plans to buy back up to $800 million of its stock and reported quarterly profit that beat estimates. (Additional reporting by Ellis Mnyandu.