NEW YORK — It took a while, but the Dow Jones industrial average finally gained back all its losses for the month.
For the week, the Dow is up 1.5 percent, the S&P 500 is up 1.8 percent, and the Nasdaq is up 2.3 percent.
On a day of conflicting signals, as investors weighed disappointing economic news against reports of higher profits at big companies, stocks inched higher Friday. All three major indexes were up Friday, though barely.
The Dow climbed 23.69 points to 13,228.31, a tiny 0.2 percent gain. That was enough to push the index into the black for April. It’s now 16 points higher than where it began the month. The Dow hit its high for the year April 2. It fell fast soon after, then bounced around. With Friday’s gain, the index is now just 36 points away from that level.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 edged up 3.38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,403.36. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.59 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,069.20.
Amazon jumped 16 percent after the online retailer reported a big increase in shipments. Online travel agency Expedia Inc. surged 24 percent on higher profits from its hotel booking business.
Companies in the S&P 500 are now on track to report a 6 percent rise in earnings for the first three months of 2012 compared with a year ago, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. Last month, Wall Street analysts had expected earnings this quarter to be flat.
The stock gains Friday came despite a government report earlier in the day that the U.S. economy grew at annual rate of 2.2 percent, below the 2.5 percent that economist had expected. It grew at a faster rate, 3 percent, in the final three months of 2011.
David Rosenberg, chief economist at money manager Gluskin Sheff, said investors may have bid up stocks on the weaker report because they now think the Federal Reserve is more likely to embark on another round of bond-buying to stimulate the economy.
“(Fed Chairman) Ben Bernanke has created the impression that if the economy stumbles, he’ll be there to hold your hand,” he said.
European stock markets also rose as investors shrugged off a second downgrade this year by S&P of Spain’s debt. Spain also reported its unemployment rate rose to nearly 25 percent, its highest in 18 years.
Spain’s IBEX rose 1.7 percent, France’s CAC-40 1.1 percent and Germany’s DAX 0.9 percent.
However the yields on Spanish and Italian government bonds rose, a sign that investors are still uneasy about the ability of those countries to service their debt.
In other news:
PROCTER & GAMBLE: It fell 4 percent after the consumer products giant reported a 16 percent profit slump for the first three months of the year on higher costs for raw materials and restructuring charges. The maker of Bounty paper towels and Luv diapers said it would be rolling back price increases on some products where it was losing market share. It also lowered earnings forecasts for the year.
STARBUCKS: It slid 5 percent after the coffee company reported a slowdown of sales in Europe.
FORD: Net income fell 45 percent to $1.4 billion in the first quarter. Ford took a beating from plummeting European sales and weaker results in Asia and South America. It also started paying more in taxes.
CHEVRON: Profit rose 4.2 percent in the first quarter as it sold oil for higher prices. That helped Chevron overcome weaker production and a plunge in U.S. natural gas prices.
GOODYEAR: It lost $11 million in its first quarter as refinancing charges more than offset the impact of higher revenue.
EASTMAN KODAK: Its first-quarter loss widened on hefty charges related to its reorganization under bankruptcy protection and a drop in sales.
MERCK: The drugmaker says its first-quarter profit jumped 67 percent despite weaker-than-expected sales, due to lower spending on production, marketing and research as well as an arbitration charge a year ago.
SANOFI: The French drugmaker says first-quarter profit rose 50 percent from a year earlier, when earnings were hurt by a charge related to the veterinary medicine business.
FIAT: The Standard & Poor’s ratings agency cut Fiat’s credit rating due to weak European results.
DAIMLER: Record sales of its luxury Mercedes brand and a boost from its financial services arm helped the German automaker increase net profit by 20 percent to $1.9 billion in the first quarter.
SAMSUNG: A surge in Galaxy smartphone sales fueled earnings at Samsung Electronics to a record high in the first quarter.
NOKIA: Standard and Poor’s says it has downgraded Nokia’s credit rating by one notch and warned that it may reduce it again unless it improves performance.