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The close: Dow ends winning streak Add to ...

The Dow Jones industrial average ended its winning streak at seven days of gains on Friday, after a disappointing reading on U.S. consumer confidence gave investors pause.

The Dow closed at 13,232.62, down 20.14 points or 0.2 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,404.17, up 1.57 points or 0.1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,496.96, up 41.14 points or 0.3 per cent.

Stocks had looked stronger at the start of trading, with a flat reading on U.S. industrial production in February failing to blunt any enthusiasm for what has been a strong period for the markets. But the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey didn’t go unnoticed: Sentiment fell unexpectedly to 74.3, down from 75.3 in February and versus expectations for a gain to 76 – pushing stocks down in morning trading.

Consumer-related stocks were among the biggest laggards: Ford Motor Co. fell 3 per cent, while Walt Disney Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell 0.6 per cent each.

However, Bank of America Corp. continued its winning streak, rising another 6.1 per cent and bringing its gains this week to nearly 22 per cent. Citigroup Inc. rose 1.2 per cent but JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 0.3 per cent.

Among Canadian stocks, Astral Media Inc. surged 33.9 per cent after BCE Inc. struck a $3-billion deal to acquire the media company. BCE shares fell 1.1 per cent. Corus Entertainment Inc. rose 7.5 per cent, with investors betting that it, too, could soon fall into the hands of a larger telecommunications player.

Research In Motion Ltd. rose 7.4 per cent on a rumour that Samsung Electronics Co. was interested in buying the BlackBerry maker. However, the rumour was shot down by Samsung. A similar rumour circulated in January.

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