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The close: Biggest weekly gains of the year

North American stock market indexes ended the week with a fizzle, but still managed to turn in their best week of the year after investors calmed themselves following the Federal Reserve's announcement on Thursday evening that it will raise its discount rate.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 10,402.35, up 9.45 points or 0.1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,109.17, up 2.42 points or 0.2 per cent. Both indexes had looked wobbly earlier in the day, when markets were trying to digest the implications of the Fed's move, which raised the rate charged to banks for emergency loans.

However, a lower-than-expected gain in U.S. consumer prices in January - and the first dip in the core consumer price index after volatile energy and food items are ignored - bolstered the view that the influential federal funds rate wasn't moving higher any time soon.

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Smith International Inc. surged 13 per cent after the Wall Street Journal reported that oil-services firm Schlumberger Ltd. was in talks to buy the company. As well, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. rose 6.6 per cent after the retailer beat expectations with its quarterly earnings, after one-time items were excluded.

However, Dell Inc. weighed things down, tumbling 6.7 per cent after the computer maker reported a 5-per-cent drop in its quarterly earnings, missing expectations.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,709.29, up 14.45 points or 0.1 per cent - marking the index's eight consecutive gain.

Financials and energy stocks rose 0.3 per cent, the latter helped out by crude oil's move toward $80 (U.S.) a barrel. However, materials fell 0.5 per cent, with Goldcorp Inc. down 1.3 per cent and Kinross Gold Corp. down 2.3 per cent.

For the week, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 2.4 per cent. Utilities turned in the biggest gains, rising 3.3 per cent. Energy stocks rose 3 per cent, financials rose 2.8 per cent and materials rose 2.2 per cent. Just one of the 10 subindexes fell: Telecom services dipped 0.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 rose 2.9 per cent during the week. All 10 subindexes were up, led by the 4.1 per cent gain by materials. Financials were a close second in performance, rising 3.8 per cent. Industrials rose 3.7 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks rose 3.5 per cent.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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