Stocks showed a lack of direction for much of the trading day on Friday but managed to end the session mostly higher. The S&P 500 reached a new record closing high, while the Nasdaq rose to its best closing level in over a month.

The major averages moved to the upside going into close to finish the day in positive territory. The Dow crept up 13.36 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,479.60, the Nasdaq climbed 49.09 points or 0.4 percent to 14,069.42 and the S&P 500 edged up 8.26 points or 0.2 percent at 4,247.44.

For the week, the major averages turned in a mixed performance. The Nasdaq jumped by 1.8 percent and the S&P 500 rose by 0.4 percent, but the Dow fell by 0.8 percent.

Traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting scheduled for next week.

The Fed is widely expected to leave its monetary policy unchanged, but traders will be looking for any clues the central bank is considering tapering its asset purchases.

Yesterday’s report from the Labor Department showed consumer price inflation reached the highest level in nearly thirteen years in May, although Fed officials have repeatedly downplayed the risks of prolonged inflation.

Traders will likely pay close attention to any changes to the Fed’s comments about inflation, with previous statements largely attributing rising inflation to “transitory factors.”

In U.S. economic news, preliminary data released by the University of Michigan showed a bigger than expected rebound in consumer sentiment in the month of June.

The report said the consumer sentiment index climbed to 86.4 in June after falling to 82.9 in May. Economists had expected the index to rise to 84.0.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, but steel stocks showed a strong move to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 1.5 percent.

Significant strength was also visible among brokerage stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index.

Airline, natural gas and housing stocks also saw strength on the day, while gold stocks moved notably lower along with the price of the precious metal.

With gold for August delivery sliding $16.80 to $1,879.60 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index fell by 1.8 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed just below the unchanged line, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both advanced by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction after trending higher over the past few sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, crept up by less than a basis point to 1.462 percent.

Looking Ahead

The Fed announcement will be in the spotlight next week, although traders are also likely to keep an eye on reports on producer prices, retail sales, industrial production, and housing starts.

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