Stocks rise, extending best start since 1998

JOSHUA FREED AP Business Writer Published:

Stocks are up at midday after the government reported that consumer spending grew last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 51 points to 13,197. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen almost five points to 1,408. The Nasdaq composite rose three points to 3,099.

Friday is the last day of trading for the quarter, and stocks are headed for their best first quarter in years. The Dow is headed toward an 8 percent gain, and the S&P 500 is close to a 12 percent gain -- their best starts since 1998.

The Nasdaq is up almost 19 percent for the year, which would be its best first quarter since 1991.

Stocks in Europe rose, too.