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US: Stocks end higher amid 'respite' from Washington


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished a difficult week on an upbeat note, rising modestly after largely positive US economic data and a more placid session in terms of national politics.

"The market enjoyed a respite from Washington," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Annuities. "The positive data supported the market." The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 per cent to 24,946.51.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.2 per cent to 2,752.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished little changed at 7,481.99.

US stocks have been pressured this week amid talk of additional US tariffs and as President Donald Trump has shaken up his Cabinet, replacing Rex Tillerson as secretary of state with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. White House watchers are girding for more upheaval but there were no bombshell announcements on Friday.

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US data showed higher industrial output in February, while a reading of consumer confidence by the University of Michigan hit a 14-year high in March.

Among individual stocks, Adobe Systems rose 3.1 per cent after reporting first-quarter revenues of US$2.1 billion, a company record and a 24 per cent increase from the year-ago period.

Jeweller Tiffany tumbled 5.1 per cent as it projected 2018 earnings below analyst expectations while it beefs up investment in e-commerce and marketing.

Wells Fargo slumped 1.7 per cent after The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department had expanded a probe of the embattled bank to include its wealth management business.

Dow member Nike shed 0.7 per cent following reports a second company executive left the company amid a review of workforce conduct. On Thursday, the company had already announced the surprise departure of top executive Trevor Edwards, who was considered a potential successor to the firm's CEO.