BRIEFCASE

NEW YORK — It took a while, but the Dow Jones industrial average finally gained back all its losses for the month.

On a day of conflicting signals, as investors weighed disappointing economic news against reports of higher profits at big companies, stocks inched higher. All three major indexes were up Friday, though barely.

The Dow climbed 24.69 to 13,228.31, a 0.2 percent gain. It was enough to push the index into the black for April.

The S&P 500 edged up 3.38, or 0.2 percent, to 1,403.36. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.59, or 0.6 percent, to 3,069.20.

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.

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.

Amazon jumped 16 percent after the online retailer reported a big increase in shipments.

The gains came despite a government report that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, below the projected 2.5 percent.

DALLAS — Boeing Co. reached an agreement to sell 20 long-range 777 jets, the planemaker’s most profitable model, to China Eastern Airlines Corp. in a deal with a list value of about $6 billion.

China Eastern approved the purchase, according to a filing Friday. The deal is subject to ratification by shareholders, said the country’s second-biggest airline.

Chinese airlines have become large customers for Boeing as the nation’s economic growth spurs travel demand. The country will probably order 5,000 planes in the 20 years ending in 2030, according to a Boeing forecast. The deal requires approval from China’s government, and Boeing said it won’t post it as an order until then.

The twin-aisle 777 carries 400 to 440 passengers.

Boeing said on its website that the jet has the range to fly nonstop routes such as London to Los Angeles. Last year’s net orders for the 777 totaled 200, up from 76 in 2010 and the most since at least 2003.

NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble Co. said Friday that it is rolling back some price increases and focusing on introducing new products in developed markets as the world’s largest consumer product maker seeks to reignite market share growth.

The maker of products ranging from Bounty paper towels to Luvs diapers also lowered its guidance as its third-quarter net income dropped 16 percent, hurt by restructuring charges and continued high costs for items like diesel fuel and packaging.

Consumer product companies have been raising prices to deal with higher costs for materials. P&G illustrates that even big companies with trusted brands can lose customers to lower-priced rivals.

NEW YORK — Drugmaker Merck & Co. said Friday that its first-quarter profit jumped 67 percent despite lower-than-expected sales, due to lower spending on production, marketing and research as well as an arbitration charge a year ago.

The maker of Singulair for asthma and allergies said net income was $1.74 billion.

Excluding one-time items such as integration of acquired businesses, it would have earned $3.04 billion. Revenue rose 1.3 percent to $11.7 billion.

Wire reports