U.S. stocks end higher, close out strong week of gains


US stock benchmarks carved out fresh intraday records on Friday with a big assist from rallying technology shares, helping Wall Street shake off North Korean tensions and aim to cement sharp weekly gains.

There was mixed news from the manufacturing sector, as total industrial activity plunged 0.9% percent in August, versus expectations of a 0.1% decline.

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The benchmark S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) also rose to new records, climbing 0.2% to 2,500.23. The Dow Jones Small-Cap Growth TSM Index closed at 8,731.63 for a gain of 29.68 points or 0.34%. Tech blue-chips Apple and Intel were among the biggest gainers.

In commodities, oil prices were little changed on Friday, as USA crude futures continued to flirt with $50 a barrel.

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In Asia, stocks were mostly lower on Friday in morning session after North Korea fired off another missile over Japan, ratcheting up geopolitical tensions and denting investor sentiment.

At 1732 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was edging higher by 0.04% or 10.15 points at 22,128.38, alongside a dip of 0.02% to 2,495.89 for the S&P 500 while the Nasdaq Composite was lower by 0.05% or 3.22 points to 6,451.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 19.38 points, or 0.3%, to 6,448.47.

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Gold fell 0.6 percent to $1,321.69 an ounce.West Texas Intermediaterose 0.1 percent to $49.93 a barrel. Core CPI rose 1.7% from a year ago, while the headline number increased by 1.9%. "Control retail sales (excludes sales at food services and drinking places, gasoline stations, building materials and auto stores) which factor directly into GDP fell 0.2% m/m in August, after a strong 0.6% gain in the prior month and are running just 1.3% (annualized) above the Q2 pace", the German bank added. Dental supply company Henry Schein gave up $3.25, or 1.9 percent, to $165.63 and drugmaker Gilead Sciences lost $1.40, or 1.7 percent, to $81.76. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for nearly all of the loss. Industrial production and retail sales figures are due Friday, which could provide more hints on whether the Fed, which meets next week, will remain on track to raise rates by the end of the year. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 2.202 percent. Interest rates also rose, which helped banks, as they stand to make more money from lending. Up 12 per cent since January, the S&P 500 is on course for its best annual gain in four years.