Dow Jones gains back all of its losses for April

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, just barely.

The Dow climbed 24.69 points to 13,228.31, a tiny 0.2 percent gain. That was enough to push the index into the black for April. It’s now 16 points higher than where it began the month.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 edged up 3.38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,403.36. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.59 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,069.20.

Amazon jumped 16 percent after the online retailer reported a big increase in shipments. Online travel agency Expedia Inc. surged 24 percent on higher profits from its hotel-booking business.

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.

The stock gains Friday came despite a government report earlier in the day that the U.S. economy grew at annual rate of 2.2 percent, below the 2.5 percent that economist had expected.

Amazon.com, Texas settle their dispute over sales tax

Online retailer Amazon.com reached an agreement with Texas officials Friday to settle a sales tax dispute by expanding operations in the state and starting to collect sales taxes.

The deal comes less than a year after Amazon shut down a distribution center in Irving to protest a $269 million tax bill sent by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs in 2010.

Combs and Amazon said in a joint statement that the settlement calls for the company to bring at least 2,500 jobs and $200 million in capital investments. The company will begin collecting and paying sales tax July 1. Last year Gov. Rick Perry denounced Comb’s decision to collect the taxes, saying it would cost Texas jobs and discourage companies from moving to Texas.

The announcement came the day after Amazon posted first-quarter profits that blew away analysts’ estimates and boosted its stock.

Samsung overtakes Nokia to lead cellphone market

Samsung in the first quarter became the world’s largest cellphone brand for the first time, overtaking longtime market leader Nokia.

In the smartphone segment, Samsung remained in second place behind Apple, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.

The South Korean electronics giant shipped 92 million cellphones worldwide in the first quarter, compared with 83 million for Nokia. While Samsung’s shipments declined by 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, Nokia’s dropped by 27 percent.

In the smartphone segment, Apple shipped 35 million units in the first quarter compared with 32 million for Samsung. Apple’s smartphone shipments declined 5 percent from the fourth quarter, compared with 11 percent for Samsung.

— From news service reports