Sep. 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM ET
Stocks closed near session highs Friday, with the Dow posting its second best weekly gain this year, as investors looked ahead to next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting and shrugged off an earlier batch of tepid economic reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed in positive territory, led by Intel, rallying nearly 3 percent for the week and logging its its second-best weekly gain this year.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, finished unchanged near 14.
All key S&P sectors closed higher, led by consumer staples and utilities.
On the economic front, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers' preliminary September consumer sentiment index fell to 76.8 from the final August figure of 82.1, according to the survey released on Friday. Economists in a Reuters survey expected a reading of 82.
Retail sales rose a meager 0.2 percent in August, according to the Commerce Department, suggesting that economic growth slowed in the third quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.4 percent following an increase of 0.4 percent in July.
And producer prices rose 0.3 percent in August as energy costs rebounded, according to the Labor Department. Economist surveyed by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.
Business inventories gained 0.4 percent in July, posting their largest increase in six months, according to the Commerce Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.2 percent.
The slew of economic data came ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy-setting meeting next week. The central bank currently purchases $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bonds in its effort to stimulate the economy. The latest Reuters poll showed economists at a majority of U.S. primary dealers expect the Fed to announce it will cut its bond purchases by $10 billion.
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"The numbers were a bit softer than expected but I hope investors aren't thinking that the Fed isn't going to taper because they are dead set on at least starting it," said Randy Warren, CIO at Warren Financial Service. "[A reduction of about] $10 billion seems reasonable and the market seems to have priced it in at this point."
Verizon was upgraded to "overweight" by Evercore Partners on the heels of its purchase of Vodafone's 45-percent stake in Verizon Wireless. According to Dow Jones, BlackRock and Pimco bought at least a quarter of Verizon's record $49 billion bond offering that it will use to refinance the acquisition. Pimco is said to have bought $8 billion, while BlackRock bought about $5 billion.
And late Thursday, Twitter disclosed it had filed for an initial public offering (IPO). Goldman Sachs is the social media messaging site's lead underwriter, sources told CNBC.
Still, worries over Syria lingered as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continued talks on disarming Syria's chemical weapons program. After Thursday's meeting, Kerry said pledges of Syria's regime to give up its chemical arms were "simply not enough."
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter:@JeeYeonParkCNBC)
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