Stocks trimmed gains amid light volume in a largely upbeat week for the market and as President Barack Obama holds a press conference focused on the U.S. economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Averagerose about 4 points after ending Thursday's session modestly higher.
Honeywell International , Altria and IBM rose. HP and American Express fell.
The S&P 500and the Nasdaq rose. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 23.
Energy, industrials and consumer discretionary sectors rose, while utilities and technology slipped.
The markets are on track to end higher for the seventh session of the past eight, although volume has been relatively light in a holiday-shortened week. Fewer than 1 billion shares have changed hands daily on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Volume is still very, very light in this market, and news is light as well," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. "The market is drifting higher in the absence of any definitive, fundamental news."
The government reported earlier Friday that U.S. wholesale inventories soared 1.3 percent in July, much better than the forecasted 0.5 percent. While positive, Gayle described the growth as "transitory."
"Our expectation is those gains won’t continue as businesses become more comfortable with what they own on hand," Gayle said.
President Obama held a press conference at 11 a.m. where he faulted Republicans for stalling progress on turning around the economy. Obama also announced long-time economic adviser, Austan D. Goolsbee, will replace Christina Romer as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Romer returned to teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.
In technology news, HP shares fell more than 1 percent after news investigators at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have widened a probe into $11 million in bribes paid by employees of an HP subsidiary in Germany to officials in Russia
Also, Nokia rose after news it has replaced its CEO with a Microsoft executive, to better fight fierce competition in the market for smartphones. Microsoft shares slipped.
National Semiconductor tumbled after the semiconductor chip firm issued a weak outlook. Also Jefferies cut National Semi to $10 from $12.
Similarly, Texas Instruments is lower on a weaker outlook. Stifel Nicolaus cut Texas Instruments's price target to $29 from $32, and Jefferies cut it to $29 from $37.
And shares of Dell slumped after Morgan Stanley cutting the PC-maker to "underweight" from "equalweight."
Meanwhile, Apple shares were up slightly after the tech company, in a reversal, made it easier for third parties to build applications and software for the iPhone and the iPad.
And Facebook overtook Google in minutes spent by users, according to new data from researchers at comScore.
In corporate news, BP was slightly higher after the oil giant said will delay the release of third-quarter results by a week to add the costs associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
3M said it will buy medical products company Arizant for $810 million in cash. The purchase is 3M's third purchase in recent weeks.
U.S. crude oil is at a near three-week high after the closure of a key pipeline from Canada cut into supplies. New York light sweet crude for delivery in October rose Friday in premarket trading.
In Europe, investors wondered whether Deutche Bank's $11.4 billion stock sale would be needed because of new Basel III rules forcing banks to get more capital. Asian shares closed higher, after Chinese imports jumped on strong domestic consumption.
On the Calendar Next Week:
MONDAY: Treasury budget
TUESDAY: NFIB small business optimism, retail sales, IBD/TIPP economic optimism index, business inventories, UN General Assembly, API weekly report; before-the-bell earnings from Kroger
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, Empire State manufacturing survey, import and export prices, industrial production, weekly oil inventories
THURSDAY: PPI, current account, jobless claims, Phili Fed survey; before-the-bell earnings from FedEx, after-the-bell earnings from Oracle and Research In Motion
FRIDAY: CPI, consumer sentiment
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