Stocks see small gains, but end week down

NEW YORK -- An unexpected jump in consumer confidence and slight gains in Americans' spending and income helped push stocks higher for the third day in a row Friday.

Stocks were still down slightly for the week, however, giving Wall Street its fourth consecutive week of losses.

--The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.82 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,441.58.

--The S&P 500 index rose 5.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,331.10.

--The Nasdaq composite rose 13.94 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,796.86.

Local dockworkers stopped working in labor dispute

Members of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1422 walked off the job for several hours Monday at the South Carolina Ports Authority's Columbus Terminal in Charleston, upset that nonunion workers were unloading a ship there.

The workers stopped unloading three ships at the port, prompting the South Carolina Stevedores Association, SSA Cooper and Ports America to seek a temporary restraining order.

The court filing said a nonunion worker was assaulted during the dispute, but no report of an assault was filed, and an attorney for the stevedore companies was unable to verify that an assault took place.

Work resumed about five hours after the work stoppage began, rendering the court filing moot.

Both sides said the work stoppage was not ordered by the union, but was initiated by union members upset about the nonunion crew unloading a fourth boat at the port.

Contracts to buy homes drop sharply for month

WASHINGTON -- The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes fell sharply in April, hitting its lowest point since fall and renewing fears that a recovery in the housing market is far off.

An index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes sank 11.6 percent last month to a reading of 81.9, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.

A reading of 100 would be considered healthy.

The last time the index reached at least 100 was in April 2010. That was the final month when people could qualify for a home-buying tax credit of up to $8,000.

Signings are still nearly 8 percent above June's reading of 75.9, the lowest figure since the housing bust.

Potential safety issues in Nissans, Jeeps investigated

DETROIT -- Auto safety regulators are investigating brake problems with the Nissan Altima and complaints of air bag troubles with the Jeep Wrangler.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website Friday that brake fluid can leak on the Altima midsize car, causing a loss of stopping power.

The investigation, which began Monday, covers about 440,000 Altimas from the 2007 and 2008 model years.

The agency said the brake master cylinder can leak internally, causing a warning light to illuminate. If the light is ignored, the cars could eventually lose braking power.

The NHTSA said it has received 20 complaints, none of which resulted in crashes or injuries.

Land Rover opens first plant in India under Tata Motors

PUNE, India -- Land Rovers began rolling off the assembly line Friday at the British brand's first plant in India since it was bought by the Indian car giant Tata Motors.

Parts still are being manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover's plant in Liverpool, England, but Land Rover Freelander 2 SUV's are now being built in the western Indian city of Pune.

India offers Jaguar great opportunities to build vehicles for less, said Carl-Peter Forster, chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Motors.