Mubarak Steps Down, and Stocks Go Up [Video]

Stocks closed higher Friday after Hosni Mubarak resigned as Egyptian president and handed control to the military, ending 18 days of mass protests and uncertainty in the strategically important Middle East nation.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) closed up 44 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 12,273. The broader S&P 500 ($INX) added 7 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 1,329. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) rose 19 points, or 0.7%, to close at 2,809.

The Dow extended its winning streak to nine sessions as it put up a gain of 1.5% for the week. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each added 1.4% this week.

New York Stock Exchange"We've had incremental growth every day this week on strong earnings and general sentiment that the market should move up," says Joe Greco, managing director at Meridian Equity Partners. "It seems like any time there is something negative and the market pulls back a little there are fresh bids, and the market fills in."

More encouraging economic news also helped equities Friday. The consumer sentiment index rose to a slightly better-than-expected 75.1 in February -- its highest level in eight months. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected the preliminary February sentiment reading would rise to 75 from 74.2 in January. The index was 74.5 in December, 71.6 in November and 67.7 in October. At the start of the recession in December 2007, the index stood at 88.9.

"In a Nice Band"

Consumers' outlook on inflation remained the same in February. The one-year inflation outlook was unchanged at 3.4% in February; the five-year inflation outlook, unchanged at 2.9%. Economists, business executives and policymakers monitor the consumer sentiment index because, historically, consumers' attitudes have correlated with their decisions to spend their income.

Despite some technical indicators to the contrary, Greco sees little risk of a major sell-off transpiring anytime soon.

"We're now in a nice band of the 1,310 to 1,320 range on the S&P 500" says the veteran New York Stock Exchange (NYX) trader. "I think there's more potential to move up. Not necessarily sharply, but to just expand."

For more on Greco's take from the floor of the NYSE, see the video above.

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