Dow closes lower, as broader market inches higher

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wall Street ended the week on a mixed note Friday, with the Dow Jones industrials closing slightly lower and the broader market inching higher.

Investors shrugged off encouraging economic signs and a tax-cut package expected to lift the economy. The $850 billion package extends Bush-era tax cuts for another two years and expiring unemployment benefits through next year.

The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.1 percent in November, the fastest pace since March. The index — which tracks data such as orders for new goods and materials — rose 0.4 percent in October.

Stocks wavered in a tight range Friday, a day after major indexes hit two-year highs.

The Dow industrials fell 7.34, or 0.1 percent, at 11,491.91.

The broader market registered slight gains. The S&P 500 index rose 1.04, or 0.1 percent, at 1,243.91, to extend its 2010 high mark. The Nasdaq index gained 5.66, or 0.2 percent, at 2,642.97.

Rising shares barely outpaced falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was 5.4 billion shares.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 was up 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq was up 0.2 percent.

Boeing Co. rose 63 cents a share, or 1 percent, to $65.03 to lead the 30 industrials. American Express Co., the index laggard, fell 1.3 percent, to $44.01.

Overseas stocks finished the week on a mixed note. Asian markets closed slightly higher. European markets fell after Moody's Investors Service downgraded Ireland's government bond rating by five notches and said that the country had a weak economic outlook. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks blue chip companies in countries that use the euro, fell 0.6 percent.

In a sign that companies are spending more money on technology, software giant Oracle Corp. said after the market closed Thursday that its net income jumped 28 percent last quarter. That beat analyst expectations and sent the company's stock up gained $1.19, or 3.9 percent, to $31.46 on Friday.

Research in Motion Ltd., the maker of the Blackberry, also said late Thursday that its third-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations. The company's stock rose 96 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $60.20 on Friday.

Before the market opened, Canadian bank BMO Financial Group said that it will buy Marshall & Ilsley Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock. BMO, which operates the Bank of Montreal, said it will repay the preferred shares that Marshall & Isley issued as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program before the deal closes in July. Shares of Marshall & Isley jumped $1.06, or 18 percent to $6.85.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.33. It traded at 3.42 late Thursday.