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U.S. Stocks Set for Longest Rally Since March on Economy

U.S. stocks rose a fifth day, giving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index its longest rally since March, as data showing an unexpected decline in jobless claims last week tempered concern about a worsening of Europe’s economy.

E*Trade Financial Corp. (ETFC) rallied 5.9 percent as Chief Executive Officer Steven J. Freiberg was ousted from the company and its board is seeking a new leader. Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) advanced 2.1 percent after the biggest maker of computer- networking equipment was added to the “Conviction Buy” list at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST) declined 7 percent after profit and sales missed analysts’ projections.

About seven stocks rose for every five falling on U.S. exchanges at 10:23 a.m. New York time. The S&P 500 (SPX) gained 0.1 percent to 1,403.98, after rallying 2.7 percent in four days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 15.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,190.89 today. Trading in S&P 500 companies was down 7.2 percent from the 30-day average at this time of day.

Labor Department figures showed that jobless claims unexpectedly dropped to 361,000 in the week ended Aug. 4. Economists predicted an increase to 370,000. The euro-area’s economy will shrink 0.3 percent this year, according to a European Central Bank survey of professional forecasters. The previous forecast called for a 0.2 percent contraction.

A four-day rally has taken the S&P 500 up almost 10 percent from a five-month low on June 1. The index is trading above the average year-end forecast among Wall Street strategists of 1,389. About 72 percent of S&P 500 companies which reported second-quarter results so far have beaten analysts’ earnings estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rita Nazareth in New York at rnazareth@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net

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