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Stocks climbed on Friday, with the Dow and S&P 500 posting a sixth week of record-clearing gains, as investors embraced the notion of continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
"The stock market has a lot of momentum here; one reason is we're getting closer and closer to year end, and people don't want to take any gains because they have to pay taxes early next year," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co. "The economy is doing better in some areas, yet the Fed is not showing any inclination towards cutting quantitative easing," he added.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 85 points higher at a record 15,961.70 and the S&P 500 rose 7 points to a high of 1,798.18 -- both for a third consecutive day. Exxon Mobil led blue-chip gains after Berkshire Hathaway reported holding a roughly $3.7 billion stake in the oil company.
For the S&P, the weekly streak is the longest since one that ended in the middle of February.The Nasdaq also advanced for its first weekly gain in three. Energy and materials led broad gains that included all 10 of its major industry groups on the S&P 500.
"Financials are looking a little stronger, that's a sector that has heated up during the last few weeks, as people start to rotate and take some profits in some sectors," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. "If you're a believer that these things can continue, you have to believe the financials can come to life," he said.
The dollar edged lower against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, while the 10-year Treasury note yield used in figuring mortgage rates and consumer loans rose 1 basis point to 2.70 percent.
As benchmark equity gauges were on track for a sixth week of gains, oil fell for a sixth week, with crude-oil futures up 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $93.84 a barrel, leaving the commodity off 0.8 percent from last Friday; gold futures rose $1.10, or 0.1 percent, to settled at $1,287.40 an ounce, leaving prices up 0.2 percent for the week after falling 5.1 percent over the prior two weeks.
U.S. stock-index futures had eased their advance only slightly in the wake of economic reports, one of which had prices for U.S. exports unexpectedly falling in October, while the costs of imports into the United States also fell as a result of a steep fall in oil prices. Export prices fell 0.5 percent last month, the Labor Department said.
Another report, the New York manufacturing survey, came in minus 2.2 for November, also below estimates.
Data also had U.S. industrial production down 0.1 percent in October.
The industrial production report is among those impacted by the government shutdown, so it was discounted by the market, while the regional manufacturing story "wasn't off-the-chart soft, so combined with everything else it got a yawn," said TD Ameritrade's Kinahan.
Thursday's record finishes were driven by remarks from Janet Yellen, who is set to become the Federal Reserve's next chairman. She said the central bank was likely to continue its stimulus package, rather than slowing, or tapering the program also known as quantitative easing.
"Yellen helped squash the notion of a taper occurring in December though when she rejected the notion to the Senate Banking Committee that there is an asset bubble being created by QE and that 'it would be costly to fail to provide accommodation,'" emailed Nick Raich, CEO at the Earnings Scout.
"There are a lot of folks beginning to worry that the Fed is creating another bubble is some asset classes," said RW Baird's Bittles, listing stocks and real estate as among them. But the Fed is more concerned about deflation than inflation, given the decline in commodity prices, said Bittles, who believes that March would be the first time the central bank might start tapering back its asset purchases. Still, there is no reason to believe the Fed will make any move then, he said.