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Markets had a modest day on Friday, aided by the absence of discouraging news from Europe and positive data on the US economy. The S&P 500 closed at its highest level in approximately four years to the joy of investors. The index had been growing steadily following encouraging news about the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) slipped 0.03% to end at 12,982.95. The S&P 500 Indez was up 0.17% to close at 1,365.74. The Nasdaq composite Index surged 0.23% and finished the day at 2,963.75. On the NYSE, advancing stocks beat the decliners by 1,621 to 1,361. However, on the Nasdaq declining stocks had the upper hand, beating advancers by 1,396 to1,129. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was down 11% this month. Consolidated volumes on NYSE, Nasdaq and AMEX was 6.4 billion shares compared to the daily average of 7.81 billion.

Investors received a boost after the S&P 500 Index reached a level last achieved before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The Index has to break the resistance barrier of 1.370, which if accomplished will generate higher gains. However, it has been unable to break through this level during in the past few sessions. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq has risen by 0.4% this week to its highest level since mid-December 2000. Both the S&P 500 and Dow rose 0.3% for the entire week. Some analysts and investors nevertheless fear a correction which has probably been put off till now by positive economic data.

Following a positive labor market report on Thursday which disclosed that jobless claims had remain unchanged since the previous week, the market was received another boosted on Friday from positive consumer data. US consumer confidence has now reached its highest level for the year even though the price of gasoline has gone up. The housing market too is in a state of recovery after a decline in sales during January. “Sales of new single-family houses in January 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000,” according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to the report: “This is 0.9% below the revised December rate of 324,000, but is 3.5% above the January 2011 estimate of 310,000”.

Coming to sectoral stocks, financial majors such as JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) and PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) slid 0.55%, 1.10% and 0.50% respectively. Meanwhile Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE:GS), Society Generale SA (OTC:SCGLY) and Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) rose by 0.06%, 5.73% and 0.44% respectively.

For the Energy sector, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) and Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE:SU) rose 0.37%, 0.67% and 1.29% while BP Plc (NYSE:BP) and Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:MPC) dipped 0.59% and 1.90% respectively.

In the coming week, the S&P 500 Index will again be tested against its resistance level of 1.370 on commencement of trading. It is to be seen whether the market will witness a correction or whether it will soar higher, powered by positive economic news.



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