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Banks Bruise Dow; Google Lifts Nasdaq

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks ended on a mixed note on Friday with strong earnings pushing tech stocks higher even as financials were hit by growing concerns over foreclosure moratoriums.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished lower by 32 points, or 0.3%, at 11,062. The S&P 500 gained 2 points or 0.2% to 1176. A 10% jump in Google (GOOG - Get Report) helped push the Nasdaq higher by 33 points, or 1.4%, to close at 2468.

The Dow managed to finish slightly higher for the week, as weakness in financials and an unexpected jump in jobless claims curbed investor enthusiasm for stocks.

Stocks initially traded higher on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that additional accommodation was coming, but did not offer fresh details.

In a speech at a conference on monetary policy in a low-inflation environment Friday morning, Bernanke said there is a "case for further action" but warned of "the uncertainties associated with the use of nonconventional policy tools." Nevertheless, he said the Fed remains committed to improving employment and price stability through policy action and said the Federal Open Market Committee is "prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and return inflation over time to levels consistent with our mandate."

Brian Bethune of Global Insight said that Bernanke's statements held no surprises and is probably why the market largely dismissed his statements as old news, choosing instead to focus on earnings. "Bernanke is merely stating the obvious in a kind of erudite manner. It is pretty obvious that the current unemployment rate is too high. You can question if the inflation rate is as low as the Fed is suggesting but most people will agree when they go to Wal-Mart or make a deal with their auto dealer, that prices are flat. He has essentially consolidated market expectation that the Fed is going to take action," he said.

Bethune says that a move from the central bank in November is a foregone conclusion. "They (central bank officials) are locked and loaded. It is just a question of how much easing. William Dudley has already thrown the figure of $500 billion, so that could be the minimum we can expect," said Bethune. He expects that the central bank will probably allow itself enough flexibility to scale back its purchases as the economy improves.

Investors were greeted with a wave of positive economic data on Friday morning. Prices at the consumer level ticked 0.1% higher in September after rising 0.3% in August. The level was slightly below the 0.2% growth that economists had been anticipating, according to Briefing.com. The core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, remained unchanged as it did in August, which was weaker than the 0.1% uptick that economists projected.
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