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The close: S&P 500 hits fresh five-year high Add to ...

The U.S. benchmark index rose to a fresh five-year high on Friday, after a smaller-than-expected trade deficit pointed to stronger economic activity in the fourth quarter and European leaders agreed to a seven-year budget.

The S&P 500 closed at 1517.93, up 8.54 points or 0.6 per cent. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,992.97, up 49.15 points or 0.4 per cent – after briefly rising above 14,000 earlier in the day. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,801.23, up 45.31 points or 0.4 per cent.

Trading volumes were relatively low because of the winter storm battering the U.S. northeast.

The U.S. trade deficit fell to $38.5-billion (U.S.) in December, a much steeper drop than expected, which points to economic growth in the fourth quarter when revised figures are released. A preliminary reading showed a contraction of 0.1 per cent.

China’s trade surplus in January was bigger than expected, with exports rising 25 per cent over last year.

In Europe, EU leaders agreed to a seven-year budget that entails the region’s first-ever spending cuts.

Stocks reacted favourably: The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.8 per cent.

Among U.S. stocks, LinkedIn Corp. surged 21.3 per cent, to a record high of $150.48, after reporting income (excluding some extraordinary items) of $40.2-million or 35 cents a share, topping expectations.

Boeing Co. fell 1.1 per cent after it warned two European airlines that deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner would be delayed as it works with regulators to determine a solution to onboard fires that have grounded its fleet of new airliners.

Among key commodities, crude oil fell to $95.72 a barrel, down 11 cents. Gold fell to $1,666.90 an ounce, down $4.40. Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.2 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 0.5 per cent.

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