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Stocks End Higher for 6th Week; Apple Jumps

Friday, 17 Aug 2012 | 4:39 PM ET

Stocks finished higher in a tight-range session Friday, with the Dow and S&P 500 logging gains for the sixth-consecutive week, following a pair of better-than-expected economic reports.

All three major averages have rallied more than 10 percent since hitting their intraday lows on June 4.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 25.09 points, or 0.19 percent to close at 13,275.90, but a few points below its closing high of December 2007. The blue-chip index traded in a tight 36-point range, its narrowest in more than two years.

The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 2.65 points, or 0.19 percent, to finish at 1,418.16. The Nasdaq climbed 14.20 points, or 0.46 percent, to end at 3,076.59.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 14, touching its lowest level in five years.

For the week, the Dow rose 0.51 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.87 percent, and the Nasdaq rallied 1.84 percent. Cisco led the weekly gainers on the Dow, while Merck sagged.

Among the key S&P sectors, techs led the gainers for the week, while utilities slumped.

Apple finished at a new all-time high after Jefferies boosted its price target on the stock to $900 from $800 a shareand reiterated its "buy" rating, citing bullish views on the tech giant's existing products, an expected launch of iTV in the next year and speculation that the iPad Mini has gone into production. (Read More: What Apple Has Taught Others)

Meanwhile, Groupon ended under $5 a share after Evercore Partners downgraded the daily-deal website's stock to "underweight" from "equal weight," saying Street estimates for the company remain too high.

And Facebook tumbled near $19 a sharea day following the end of the social-media giant's first lockup period earlier this week. The company's shares are now half off its IPO price of $38.

"This seems to be the rally that no one’s really enjoyed," said Chris Bertelsen, CIO at Global Financial Private Capital. "My view is that over the next week, we’ll see about a 1-percent pullback—we need some type of backfill. This has been an unanticipated run." (Read More: Sleepy Summer Markets Could Give Way to Rougher Fall)

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On the economic front, consumer sentiment ticked up to its highest level since May, in its August preliminary reading, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey. And leading indicators gained in July, according to the Conference Board, thanks to a drop in jobless claims and gains in housing permits.

European shares hit 13-month highs, extending their longest weekly winning streak in seven years, amid hopes that euro zone policymakers will work closely to tackle the debt crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her support for ECB President Mario Draghi's plans to fight the region's sovereign debt crisis.

"There was a remarkable lack of detail, however, which is why I think people will tiptoe into the weekend," cautioned Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. "Verbally, [Germans are] on board, but we haven’t seen any details yet."

Merkel is scheduled to meet with French President Francois Hollande next week.

Stocks have drifted higher in recent weeks amid hopes that the Federal Reserve might provide further monetary policy easing on the heels of some weak economic numbers. But optimism has started to wane as a number of strategists have lowered their expectations in the last few days. Most recently, analysts at Nomura Securities reduced their outlook regarding the likelihood of the central bank implementing QE3 in September to 40 percent.

And a number of Fed officials have suggested the central bank may not need to wait until late 2014before raising interest rates. Chairman Ben Bernanke has kept rates near zero since December 2008, saying economic conditions will stay weak enough to keep them there until at least late 2014. (Contrary View: Gloomier Outlook, Greater Expectations for QE3)

Among earnings, Ann soared after the parent company of Ann Taylor posted better-than-expected earnings.

Gap rallied after the apparel retailer topped earnings estimatesand boosted its full-year outlook. At least seven brokerages raised their price targets on the firm.

Marvell Technology tumbled after the chipmaker handed in a disappointing current-quarter guidance. In addition, at least 10 brokerages slashed their price targets on the firm.

J.M. Smucker gained after the maker of Jif peanut butter reported better-than-expected quarterly results thanks to price cuts. In addition, the company maintained its full-year forecast.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up Next Week:

MONDAY: Chicago Fed national activity index; Earnings from Lowe’s
TUESDAY: Fed’s Lockhart speaks; Earnings from Best Buy, Medtronic, Dell
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, existing home sales, oil inventories, FOMC minutes; Earnings from H-P
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, new home sales, FHFA home price index; Earnings from Gold Fields, Hormel Foods
FRIDAY: Durable goods orders, USDA food prices outlook

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