NEW YORK (Reuters) — U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, with major indexes notching a second straight week of gains as investors were once again willing to overlook some soft economic data stemming from bad weather.
Gains were broad, with the Nasdaq closing at its highest level since 2000 and nine of the 10 major S&P 500 sector indexes rising on the day.
The only declining sector was telecom, which is viewed as a defensive play. Energy, which is closely tied to the pace of economic growth, was the day’s biggest advancer, up 1.5 percent.
U.S. export prices rose 0.2 percent in January, the third straight monthly increase in a potentially positive sign for global economic demand and the outlook for American manufacturers.
In the latest data point affected by harsh winter weather, factory production fell 0.8 percent in January, the biggest drop in more than 4½ years. Investors have been willing to forgive soft data of late, attributing weak results to bad weather as opposed to a slowing economy.
Despite the weather, the preliminary reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan overall index of consumer sentiment stood at 81.2 in February, unchanged from the final January reading.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 126.80 points, or 0.79 percent, to end at 16,154.39. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 8.80 points, or 0.48 percent, to finish at 1,838.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 3.35 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at 4,244.03.