UPS upbeat report nudges stocks up

NEW YORK -- An encouraging earnings forecast from UPS and stronger manufacturing figures gave the stock market its sixth straight advance. The gains Thursday were modest.

Analysts said a slowdown in the market's upward push was overdue. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21 points after racing higher by nearly 104 points on Wednesday. The Dow closed above 11,000 Monday for the first time in a year and a half. Other major stock indexes also stand at their highest levels since 2008.

The forecast from UPS raised hopes that the economy is strengthening. The company, which is considered a bellwether of broader business and consumer trends, raised its full-year earnings target because of an increase in international deliveries.

All Toyota SUVs to be safety-checked

TOKYO -- Toyota is testing all its sport utility vehicles to reassure buyers of their safety after Consumer Reports warned a large Lexus SUV is susceptible to rolling over.

The testing covers the entire lineup of Toyota and Lexus SUVs, a spokesman said. The automaker will be testing the vehicles' stability control and aims to replicate the Consumer Reports' test that first uncovered the problem. Toyota was unaware how long the tests would take.

Toyota also is suspending production of the Lexus SUV -- the GX 460 -- for 12 days starting Friday. The move follows suspension of the vehicle's sales earlier this week.

Toyota has yet to decide whether it will recall the vehicle, a hefty seven-seat SUV sold mainly in North America but also in the Middle East, Russia and some other nations.

Home loan rates slip, but stay above 5%

MccLEAN, Va. -- Rates for long-term mortgages dropped this week but still remained above 5 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 5.07 percent this week, down from 5.21 percent a week earlier. Last week's average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage had been the highest since mid-August, when it was 5.29 percent.

A campaign by the Federal Reserve to reduce borrowing costs for consumers ended at the end of March.

This week, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.40 percent, down from 4.52 percent last week.

Builders sentiment is more optimistic

LOS ANGELES -- The National Association of Home Builders says its housing market index climbed in April, buoyed by improved sales as buyers raced to qualify for tax incentives due to expire this month.

The trade association said Thursday that its index rose four points to 19, the highest reading since September. Readings below 50 indicate negative sentiment. The report reflects a survey of 417 residential developers nationwide.

Google has robust profits, revenues

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's first-quarter profit rose 37 percent to $2 billion as more people clicked on higher-priced Internet ads powered by the company's search engine. Revenue climbed 23 percent to $6.78 billion. That marked Google's greatest revenue growth since the third quarter of 2008.