NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging news about the U.S. economy helped push stock prices higher in early trading on Wall Street Friday.

A gauge of future economic activity rose more than analysts had expected, as did a measure of consumer confidence. Stocks have surged to record levels this year, bolstered by optimism about that the housing market is recovering and hiring is picking up. The market has also been supported by ongoing stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

The Conference Board reported that its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent last month after a decline of 0.1 percent in March. The index is intended to predict how the economy will be doing in three to six months.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,294 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The index is 1.2 percent higher for the week.

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