Stocks Closed Slightly Higher on Trade Data

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher on Friday following favorable trade data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 48.92 points, or 0.35%, at 13,992.97, after breaking 14,000 once more. It closed down 0.1% for the week. The S&P 500 Index advanced 8.54 points, or 0.57%, to close at 1,517.93, for a weekly gain of 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed near its high of the day, up 28.74 points, or 0.91%, at 3,193.87. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq logged their sixth week of gains.

The economy likely expanded slightly in the fourth quarter as higher exports and a slump in oil imports narrowed the trade gap, suggesting a surprise drop in economic output reported last week was overstated. America’s trade deficit shrank in December to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The GDP report had shocked economists, who had been looking for the economy to expand at a 1.1 percent pace.

The U.S. Postal Service lost $1.3 billion in the October to December quarter, an official said on Friday, days after the beleaguered mail agency announced plans to cut back on Saturday delivery to save money. The Postal Service lost $3.3 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Dell Inc’s largest independent shareholder Southeastern Asset Management said it plans to oppose the buyout of the personal computer maker, setting up a battle for founder Michael Dell who is leading the effort to operate the company away from public scrutiny.

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