Home sales help stocks go higher

NEW YORK - Wall Street ended its calmest week in a month with a big advance Friday, rising on solid economic readings that countered the bleak sentiment that has blanketed the financial markets. The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 140 points in a lightly traded session.

Stocks started out flat but jumped following a stronger-than-expected reading on new homes sales for July. That report came after a reading showing orders to factories for big-ticket goods rose sharply last month.

The stock market's gains Friday after several stable or positive sessions suggested that Federal Reserve policymakers and stock market investors have perhaps struck a truce - maybe only a tenuous one - with the Fed acknowledging it stands ready to try to fend off a seizing up of the credit markets and investors willing to focus on readings on the health of the economy before making decisions.

"I think we've stabilized a bit since the Fed has lowered the discount rate," said Nicholas Raich, director of research at National City Private Client Group in Cleveland, referring to the Fed's decision to cut the interest it charges to lend to banks.