Dow, S&P end up after solid data; Nasdaq slips

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 closed up for a third straight session on Friday after several solid consumer-related reports reinforced investors’ confidence in a steady recovery by the economy.

Traders traders gather at the post that handles CIT Group, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, December, 10 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Government reports showing stronger-than-expected November retail sales and an unexpected rise in business inventories in October pointed to a recovery in consumer spending. A private survey also showed consumer sentiment improved in early December, lifting the S&P Retail index .RLX by 1.3 percent.

“Today is a repeat of prior days, with economic data showing recession is bottoming out and recovery is here,” said Rick Lake, portfolio manager of the Aston/Lake Partners LASSO Alternatives Fund in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 65.67 points, or 0.63 percent, at 10,471.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 4.06 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,106.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 0.55 point, or 0.03 percent, at 2,190.31.

The day’s gains came even as the dollar strengthened, suggesting an inverse correlation between equities and the greenback may be fading. The inverse correlation had partly reflected carry trades whereby investors borrow a currency cheaply in order to invest in higher-yielding assets.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.8 percent, the S&P was near flat and the Nasdaq shed 0.2 percent.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill aimed at safeguarding the financial system and warding off future crises. Bank of America BAC.N closed up 2.8 percent at $15.63 as one of the top gainers on the Dow.

Mining stocks also advanced after JPMorgan lifted its price target on five companies in the sector, including Alcoa Inc AA.N and Freeport McMoRan FCX.N.

Alcoa shares surged 8.2 percent to $14.61.

But National Semiconductor NSM.N fell 3.6 percent to $14.73, pressuring the tech sector, a day after the company posted results that prompted concerns about its ability to regain market share.

The Philadelphia semiconductor index .SOXX fell 1.0 percent.

An index of airline stocks .XAL advanced 6.3 percent, its largest move up since May 4, after executives at several carriers pointed to improved outlooks in 2010.

Delta Air Lines DAL.N was up 13.9 percent at $11.25 and US Airways LCC.N rose 10.5 percent to close at $4.83.

United Technologies Corp UTX.N gained 2.2 percent at $69.40 and provided the Dow's biggest lift after the company said it expects profits to rise about 10 percent in 2010 on cost cuts.

Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1.02 billion shares changing hands, below last year’s estimated daily average of 1.49 billion, while on the Nasdaq, about 1.77 billion shares traded, also below last year’s daily average of 2.28 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of 2 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, about 15 stocks rose for every 10 that fell.

Editing by Kenneth Barry