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The close: S&P 500 stretches gains to six days

North American stocks rebounded from an early decline on Friday, preserving an impressive winning streak for U.S. stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,207.95, up 42.76 points or 0.3 per cent. The broader S&P 500 – which has gained for six straight days – closed at 1405.87. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,890.89, up 32.76 points or 0.3 per cent.

The moves follow a report showing very weak Chinese export growth in July, which weighed on stocks in earlier trading.

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China reported that its exports grew just 1 per cent in July. That was down from 11.3 per cent growth in June and well off economists' expectations for export growth of 8 per cent in July. Import growth also missed expectations.

Dismal economic reports have been driving hopes among investors that the world's central banks will step in with stimulus measures.

Yet, these hopes are being challenged as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have chosen to stay on the sidelines in recent monetary policy updates. As well, some observers believe that stimulus measures at this point could have relatively little impact on the global economy.

Research In Motion Ltd. rose 6.5 per cent after Bloomberg News reported that International Business Machines Corp. has shown an interest in the BlackBerry maker's network operations, raising hopes that the struggling company could find a buyer.

J.C. Penney Co. shook off an early decline in premarket trading, after the retailer reported a dismal drop in its second quarter sales from existing stores, ending the day up 5.9 per cent.

Manchester United ended the day unchanged, at $14 (U.S.), following the initial public offering of the British soccer club.

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