Stocks rose on Friday as unchanged consumer prices, a slower pace in the decline in industrial output and stronger-than-expected data on consumer sentiment reinforced hopes the recession is easing.

Investors snapped up shares in a range of sectors, including technology, consumer discretionary and big manufacturers.

Insurers' shares rose after news that at least four U.S. insurers won approval for government aid.

Shares of Alcoa Inc rose 6 percent to $9.26, putting the stock among the Dow's biggest boosts after Goldman Sachs resumed coverage of the aluminum producer with a buy rating.

Among technology shares, International Business Machines Corp rose 1.7 percent to $102.74, while Apple Inc added about 1 percent to $124.01, making it the top boost on Nasdaq.

I think the numbers continue some of the data we've seen elsewhere. The information is getting less bad, and some of the worst fears haven't come to pass, said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 46.12 points, or 0.55 percent, to 8,377.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 1.92 points, or 0.21 percent, to 894.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 12.31 points, or 0.73 percent, to 1,701.52.

Among consumer-oriented stocks, shares of upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc rose more than 9 percent to $22.91 after it posted stronger-than-expected quarterly profit. The S&P retail index <.RLX> rose 1.5 percent.

Shares in Hartford Financial Services Group Inc rose 9.5 percent to $16.16, while Principal Financial Group Inc

added 4.4 percent to $19.68, and Lincoln National Corp climbed 7.1 percent to $17.40.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in April from March, and industrial output declined at a slower pace, reports showed, providing more evidence the worst phase of the recession may be over.

Adding to the somewhat less gloomy picture, the New York Federal Reserve's index of manufacturing business conditions in New York State climbed to minus 4.55 in May, its highest since August 2008.

Also, consumer confidence in May rose to its highest level since the September collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Any sign of stabilization in consumer sentiment is a big psychological boost as consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and is a key driver of corporate profits.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)