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Stocks gain as Americans open their wallets

NEW YORK (AP) -- After two days of declines, stocks were moving higher in midday trading Friday following news that U.S. consumer spending rose the most in three months in February. Tech stocks were recovering after a week of losses with help from Microsoft.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,863 as of 12:26 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 120 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,383 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 49 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,200.

START ME UP: The biggest gainer in the Dow was Microsoft, which rose 98 cents, or 3 percent, to $40.34. The company announced Thursday that it was bringing Microsoft Office to the iPad and would shift its focus away from Windows, a move that analysts cheered.

“We continue to view (this) as a massive revenue and operating profit opportunity for Microsoft,” analysts at Credit Suisse said in a report Thursday. Other tech stocks also rose after a week of losses. Google, Intel and IBM each rose about 1 percent.

SPENDING UNFROZEN: Investors were encouraged by news that Americans picked up their spending last month, a hopeful sign for an economy that has been slowed by months of severe winter weather. The Commerce Department said consumer spending inched up 0.3 percent, a hair short of economists' forecasts. Incomes rose at the same pace.

CBS SPLITS: CBS Outdoor, a major outdoor advertising company, rose $1.93, or 7 percent, to $29.93 on its first day of trading. CBS decided to spin off CBS Outdoor into a separate publicly traded company because executives believed billboard advertising did not fit well with CBS's primary business of broadcasting.

OTHER MARKETS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note hovered around 2.72 percent, up from 2.69 percent Thursday. The price of crude oil edged up 31 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $101.60 a barrel. Gold was little changed at $1,292.40 an ounce.

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