The New York Stock Exchange, still buoyed by optimism about interest-rate trends, posted another session of gains on Friday, putting it on course for a fourth consecutive week of gains.

At the end of the morning, the Dow Jones index advanced 0.1% to 39,908.4 points, once again approaching the 40,000-point mark it had briefly crossed yesterday.

The Nasdaq also advanced 0.1% to 16,718.2 points, as did the S&P 500, which climbed back above the 5,300-point threshold.

"We believe that the S&P 500 could reach the 5,500-point mark by the end of the year", said Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer of UBS's wealth management arm.

The day's only economic indicator bolstered investor optimism about the prospect of further rate cuts.

The Conference Board's index of leading indicators, which is supposed to forecast economic activity, fell more sharply than expected in April (-0.6%), signalling a slowdown in the economy.

This bout of weakness could prompt the Fed to support growth by easing monetary policy as early as September.

But for some investors, the rise of recent weeks offers opportunities to take profits, at least in part, particularly on stocks that had made good progress recently.

On the bond front, the ten-year yield has climbed back to almost 4.40%, after hitting lows of more than a month at around 4.32% the previous day.

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