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S&P Posts Best Close Since June 2008

Friday, 24 Feb 2012 | 4:57 PM ET

Stocks ended narrowly mixed in another lackluster session Friday as investors hesitated to remain long ahead of the weekend, but the major indexes still posted gains for the week with the S&P logging its best finish since June 2008.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 1.74 points, or 0.01 percent, to end at 12982.95.

The blue-chip index has flirted with the psychologically-significant 13,000 level all week after initially crossing the mark on Tuesday for the first time since May 2008, but has yet to close above the milestone.

The S&P 500 gained 2.28 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish at 1,365.74, logging its best close in almost 3-1/2 years. The Nasdaq rose 6.77 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 2,963.75.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended above 17.

For the week, the Dow climbed 0.41 percent, the S&P advanced 0.33 percent, while the Nasdaq added 0.41 percent. For the week, P&G was the top gainer on the blue-chip index, while H-P was the biggest laggard.

Among the key S&P sectors, energy climbed the most for the week, while banks slumped.

“We’re at extraordinarily low volumes and the economic news has been marginally good at best with mixed earnings,” said Doreen Mogavero, president and CEO of Mogavero, Lee & Company. “Overall, it’s been an uneventful week.”

The NYSE average weekly volume hit its lowest level so far this year.

Meanwhile, oil prices settled near $110 a barrel, logging its fifth weekly gain, amid worries over cuts in Iranian supply. (Read More: Oil Above $120 Will Soon Hurt Stocks)

“Everyone’s going to continue watching oil,” said Mogavero. “People are feeling that if oil continues higher, it will crimp this recovery.”

China’s Proview, which has been suing Apple over the use of the iPad name, brought the court battle to U.S. shores, filing suit in a California court.

JC Penney erased early gains to close slightly lower even after the clothing retailer reported earnings that topped estimates.

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Gap slipped after the retailer reported a 40 percent decline in fourth-quarter net income, hurt by higher costs and heavy discounts during the holiday season. Meanwhile, at least two brokerages raised their price targets on the firm.

Kenneth Cole Productions jumped after the company offered to take the company private, agreeing to pay stockholders a 15 percent premium to the firm's closing price on Thursday. The deal values Kenneth Cole at $280 million.

Sears soared for a second day to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the retailer announced several moves to increase liquidity, including the sale of 11 stores to General Growth Properties for $270 million, and the spinoff of 1,250 Hometown and Outlet stores to shareholders.

Salesforce.com surged after the software maker posted a gain in new business. At least nine brokerages boosted their price targets on the company.

AIG rallied after the insurer said its profit soared 77 percentin the fourth quarter, thanks to a big tax benefit.

Meanwhile, Citigroup sold its stake in India's Housing Development Finance for $1.9 billion, in an aim to shore up their balance sheets to meet stricter capital rules.

Social commerce company Bazaarvoice and and plastics parts maker Proto Labs both skyrocketed in their market debuts.

On the economic front, the consumer sentiment index gained to 75.3 in February, its best level in almost a year, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading.

Meanwhile, new home sales declined 0.9 percent in Januaryto a seasonally adjusted 321,000-unit annual rate, according to the Commerce Department.

European shares ended higher, helped bystrong company results and expectation that the European Central Bank will lend a vast amount to banks at next week's three-year refinancing operation.

Mexican finance minister Jose Antonio Meade will host a two-day meeting of peers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading economies at the weekend. The meeting will likely be dominated by discussion of the euro zone debt crisis.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

On Tap Next Week:

MONDAY: Pending home sales index, Dallas Fed mfg survey; Earnings from HSBC, Lowes, Priceline.com
TUESDAY: Durable goods orders, S&P Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence, Fed's Pianalto speaks, JPMorgan Chase investor day; Earnings from Office Depot, DreamWorks Animation
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, GDP, Fed's Fisher speaks, Chicago PMI, Bernanke speaks, oil inventories, Fed's Plosser speaks, Beige Book; Earnings from Costco, Staples
THURSDAY; Fed's Pianalto speaks, jobless claims, personal income and spending, ISM mfg index, construction spending, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, auto sales, chain store sales, EU summit; Earnings from Big Lots, Kroger, Wendy's
FRIDAY: Fed's Bullard speaks, Yelp set to trade

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