Stocks Close Higher for the Week, Once Again


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.

Sponsored Links

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..