Wall Street ends higher with boost from big tech

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  • Johnson & Johnson announces to split into two companies
  • Consumer sentiment hits 10-year low
  • Tesla slides as Musk sells more shares

NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks closed higher on Friday, with market-leading growth shares kick-starting indexes' climb as investors looked past disappointing U.S. economic data.

Despite their advance, all three major U.S. stock indexes ended the session below last Friday's close, ending a five-week streak of weekly advances.

Investors favored growth (.IGX) over value (.IVX), with megacap tech stocks led by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) doing the heavy lifting.

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The University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment data for November unexpectedly dropped to a 10-year low, and a Labor Department report showed job openings barely budged from record highs even as workers are quitting in record numbers.

"Markets drifted higher today despite a very weak consumer sentiment report, as inflation seems to be hurting consumers more than corporate profits," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.

The souring mood of the consumer could be worrisome to retailers as the holiday shopping season draws near, and is likely to draw intensified scrutiny to upcoming retail earnings reports.

Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Target Corp (TGT.N), Home Depot Inc (HD.N) and Macy's Inc (M.N) are among the high profile retailers expected to report next week.

"Investors will be focused on guidance from retailers to determine if inflation will crimp profit margins or if costs can be passed through," Carter added.

Retail results will herald the last days of what was a largely upbeat third-quarter earnings season. As of Friday, 459 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported. Of those, 80% delivered consensus-beating earnings, according to Refinitiv.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 33.54 points, or 0.72%, to end at 4,682.81 points, while the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) gained 156.30 points, or 1.00%, to 15,860.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 177.53 points, or 0.49%, to 36,098.76.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) gained after it announced splitting into two companies, dividing its consumer healthcare segments from its pharmaceuticals/medical devices business. read more

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) dropped on news that Chief Executive Elon Musk had sold an additional $700 million in stock in the next chapter of a saga that began with Musk's infamous Twitter poll on whether he should offload shares in the company he founded. read more

Rival electric automaker Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) notched its third consecutive gain in as many days as a publicly traded company.

U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding slipped following the e-commerce giant's report showing its slowest-ever Singles Day sales. read more

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Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang

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