Stocks Once Again Climb To New Record Closing Highs

After showing a strong move to the upside in morning trading on Friday, stocks remained firmly positive throughout the afternoon. With the upward move, the major averages once again climbed to new record closing highs.

The major averages ended the day just off their highs of the session. The Dow advanced 228.46 points or 0.9 percent to 25,803.19, the Nasdaq climbed 49.28 points or 0.7 percent to 7,261.06 and the S&P 500 rose 18.68 points or 0.7 percent to 2,786.24.

For the week, the Dow surged up by 2 percent, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 jumped by 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

The continued strength on Wall Street partly reflected optimism about the earnings season after financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM), BlackRock (BLK) and Wells Fargo (WFC) all reported better than expected quarterly results.

JPMorgan and BlackRock moved notably higher after reporting results that beat estimates, although Wells Fargo moved to the downside.

Traders were also digesting some closely watched economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales rose in line with economist estimates in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased by 0.4 percent in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.9 percent in November.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.8 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales still rose by 0.4 percent in December after jumping by 1.3 percent in November. The increase in ex-auto sales also matched estimates.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed consumer prices rose by less than expected in December, reflecting a sharp pullback in energy prices.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 in November. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said core consumer prices, which exclude…

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