Feb. 8, 2013 at 10:23 AM ET
Stocks opened slightly higher on Friday after a trio of positive economic data points, and further gains were expected to be modest with the benchmark S&P index near five-year highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 65 points, or 0.47 percent, at 14,005. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7 points, or 0.48 percent, at 1,516. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26 points, or 0.82 percent, at 3,191.
Stocks are slightly lower for the week, with Dow down 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 also 0.3 percent lower.
The trade deficit fell nearly 21 percent in December from November to $38.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's the smallest in nearly three years. The smaller trade gap means the economy likely performed better in the final three months of last year than first estimated last week.
Shares of LinkedIn, the online professional-networking service, jumped $21.32, or 18 percent, to $145.70 after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results late Thursday.
Data showed Chinese exports grew more than expected in January, while imports climbed 28.8 percent, highlighting robust domestic demand, while German data showed a 2012 surplus that was the nation's second highest in more than 60 years, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest economy.
Comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi about the strength of the euro Thursday renewed concern about the euro zone economy and sent U.S. equities lower.
The S&P 500 has risen for five straight weeks and is up 5.8 percent for the year. Its advance was helped by legislators in Washington averting a series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes earlier in the year, as well as better-than-expected corporate earnings and data that pointed to modest economic improvement but no immediate change in the Federal Reserve's stimulus plans.
The index, hovering near five-year highs, has found it tougher to climb in recent days as investors await strong trading incentives to drive it further upward.
"The market has made a big run, a lot of this was anticipated and so now investors are saying, 'Now what? What do we do for an encore?'" said Terry Morris, senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania.
"It has made a big run and it is deserving of rest, in fact it would probably be healthy if we had a little bit of a pullback."
According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of 317 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies grew 5 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.