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‘Witching’ Gives Stocks A Big Boost

Stock prices surged again Friday, despite the lack of any new eco nomic news to act as a stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up more than 103 points to 8,906.43, finishing the week with more than a 300-point gain. It was the Dow’s fifth-straight record high, and analysts said the increase was related to “triple witching,” the expiration of certain options and futures.

In economic reports this week:

The Labor Department said plummeting energy prices held consumer inflation to a tiny 0.1 percent in February. So far this year, consumer inflation is running at an unbelievably low annual rate of 0.4 percent.

The Commerce Department reported that the overall deficit climbed 10.5 percent in January to $12 billion. It was the worst showing for trade in goods and services in a decade, and the imbalance in goods alone - $18.8 billion - was the worst for any month ever.

U.S. housing starts rose 6.0 percent in February, Commerce Department figures showed. That followed a 0.2 percent increase in January and sent the annual rate of new starts to its highest level in more than a decade.

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