NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose modestly today, extending Thursday's rebound, as this week's sudden worries about interest rates continued to fade with another day of favorable economic data.

At 3 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 43.59 at 9,106.96, off from an early 68-point gain that put it about 50 points shy of record terrain.

Broader stock indexes were also padding Thursday's gains after a series of readings on manufacturing, construction, and personal income and spending reinforced arguments that the economy isn't growing at an inflationary pace.

On Monday, stocks tumbled amid reports that the Federal Reserve was now prepared to raise its key lending rates to prevent an inflationary spurt. The market rebounded on Thursday, however, after a report showing that employment costs _ the dominant force behind inflation _ rose only moderately in the first three months of the year.

Banking companies were posting big gains today as takeover speculation heated up again in that sector amid news reports that BankBoston and Fleet Financial Group recently discussed a possible merger.

American Express was up 2 5/8 at 104 13/16 and J.P. Morgan was up 2 5/16 at 133 9/16 to lead the Dow's advance, along with Chevron, up 3 3/16 at 85 7/8, and Exxon, up 2 5/16 at 75 3/8.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 4-to-3 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 469.41 million shares, well below Thursday's hectic pace.

The Standard & Poor's 500 list was up 5.82 at 1,117.57, and the NYSE composite index was up 2.58 at 579.95.

The Nasdaq composite index was up 1.14 at 1,869.55, and the American Stock Exchange composite index was up 1.95 at 748.57.

Overseas, Tokyo's Nikkei stock average fell 0.3 percent, and London's FT-SE 100 rose up 1.4 percent. Markets were closed for a holiday in Frankfurt.