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Stocks' rally continues into afternoon trading

By msnbc.com staff

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s flirtation with 13,000 continued Friday, but it still remains to be seen if the index can close the deal and end trading above that level.

At 12:30 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.10 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.30 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.38 percent.

Stocks were higher all Friday morning and early afternoon, though there was little economic news to give investors a firm push one way or the other.

Consumer sentiment rose in February to a year high, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index.

In addition, single-family home sales in January were higher than economists' expectations in a sign of a budding recovery in the housing sector.

What will it take for the Dow to close above 13,000 and stay there? Mark Lamkin, CEO of Lamkin Wealth Management in Louisville, Ky., said it would require a surprising news event, like a huge merger or an economic report that blows past expectations.

"It needs some type of surprise, a bombshell," Lamkin said. "We've had a pretty good run over the past four months. Now, it's going to take something great to keep it above 13,000."

Stock indexes have been on a steady climb since November, as European officials redoubled their efforts to contain the region's debt crisis and the European Central Bank has extended cheap loans to troubled banks. The S&P 500 index has gained 8.9 percent to start 2012, better than its long-term annual average gain.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.