NEW YORK – U.S. stocks rose Friday, with the major indexes finishing with weekly gains, as upbeat consumer confidence and manufacturing data countered concern about government-spending cuts.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s reiteration this week that monetary stimulus would continue helped support equities, with the Dow Jones industrial average on Thursday coming within 15 points of its all-time closing high hit on Oct. 9, 2007.
“It’s the great bull market that no one believes in,” Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management, said of equities nearing all-time highs.
On Friday, the Dow ended at 14,089.66, 75 points from its record finish, recovering from a 116-point drop after a report by the Institute for Supply Management, which said its manufacturing index accelerated in February, rising to 54.2 percent from 53.1 percent the month before.
The S&P 500 index advanced 3.52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,518.20, with health care faring best and industrials leading declines among its 10 major sectors.
Groupon Inc. rallied nearly 13 percent a day after the daily-deals provider fired its CEO after a disappointing quarter.
Gap Inc. shares gained 2.9 percent after the clothing retailer tallied fourth-quarter profit that exceeded estimates.<p>Salesforce.com Inc. gained 7.8 percent after posting better-than-anticipated results for its fourth quarter.
The Nasdaq Composite climbed 9.55 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,169.74, leaving it 0.3 percent higher for the week.
For every three stocks that declined roughly, four gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 743 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 3.7 billion.
Late in Thursday’s session, a Senate vote kept the $85 billion in automatic federal budget reductions in play, with U.S. stocks giving up gains in the last moments of the trading session.
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