Stocks Close Higher for the Week, Once Again

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Stocks closed modestly mixed on light volume Friday in the last full trading week of the year, which marked the third week in a row of overall gains. Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK) put a damper on the Dow, while robust earnings from Oracle (ORCL) and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM) helped lift tech stocks.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) fell seven points to close at 11,492. The broader S&P 500 ($INX) added one point to finish at 1,244. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) gained six points, or 0.2%, to end at 2,643.

Fears of greater federal regulation hurt drugs stocks. Pfizer and Merck were among the Dow's top losers Friday and health care was the S&P 500's worst-performing sector. However, upbeat earnings from tech bellwether Oracle and RIM late Thursday boosted tech stocks. The Nasdaq is now up 16.5% for 2010 and sitting at nearly a three-year high.


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In economic news, November's leading economic indicators (LEI) index rose 1.1%, the Conference Board said Friday. That's the forward-looking index's biggest gain since March, even though it's a touch below a Bloomberg survey that forecast the LEI to rise 1.2%. October's gain was revised slightly lower, to an 0.4% gain from the previous estimate of 0.5%. The index rose 0.6% in September.

The latest earnings and economic news confirm that the economic recovery, while still sluggish, is slowly picking up steam, says Joe Greco, managing director at Meridian Equity Partners. With the S&P 500 up a decent 11.5% for the year-to-date and sitting at a level last seen in September 2008, he says, it's only natural for the market to waver or pause..
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Markets

S&P 500 2,259.53 13.34 0.59%
DJIA 19,756.85 142.04 0.72%
NASDAQ 5,444.50 27.14 0.50%
DAX 11,203.63 24.21 0.22%
HANG SENG 22,760.98 -100.86 -0.44%
NIKKEI 225 18,996.37 230.90 1.23%
USD (per EUR) 1.06 -0.01 -0.57%
USD (per CHF) 1.02 0.00 0.12%
JPY (per USD) 115.35 1.28 1.12%
GBP (per USD) 1.26 0.00 -0.05%

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