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Stocks close higher despite disappointing home sales report


SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, shaking off losses following disappointing new home-sales data, but a big boost from Microsoft’s CEO news failed to raise the Dow industrials for the week. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 46.77 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 15,010.51. But the index declined for a third consecutive week, its longest weekly losing streak since Nov. 16, 2012.

Blue chips had plenty of support from shares of Microsoft Corp., which closed up 7.3 percent at $34.75, the best performer on the Dow following news that CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within 12 months.

Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Nasdaq composite index, however, snapped their two-week losing streaks. The S&P 500 rose 6.54 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,663.50 and log a 0.5 percent rise on the week.The Nasdaq composite advanced 19.08 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 3,657.79, for a weekly gain of 1.5 percent.Earlier in the morning, stocks faced head winds from the release of new home-sales data, which was much weaker than expected.

But as investors digested the housing data, stocks started clawing their way back into positive territory, likely treating the poor numbers as an argument for delaying tapering of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchases. Two Fed officials offered mixed comments in CNBC interviews from the Fed’s conference near Jackson Hole, Wyo. The market latched onto this uncertainty and treated the housing data as another data point to support a delay of tapering, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

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