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Stocks Finish Tough Week With Slight Gains

The Congressional Budget Office repeated its projections Thursday that if significant tax increases and spending cuts are allowed to go into effect in January they will probably cause the economy to fall back into a recession next year.

Concerns about Greece's stability have returned as well after reports that the European Union won't decide on whether to provide the next round of bailout funds for the country until sometime next week, even though the Greek parliament did manage to pass a new, tough austerity package by a narrow margin this week.

Greece's parliamentary vote on the country's budget is expected to take place on Sunday, on the eve of a eurozone finance ministers meeting.

Upbeat data on U.S. consumer confidence extended some cheer to the markets Friday. The read on the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for November came in at 84.9, the highest level since July 2007. It was predicted by economists to rise to 83 from 82.6.

Still, Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak commented that "the rise in consumer confidence while a welcome reading is unlikely to soften the negative tone to trading from fears surrounding the fiscal cliff thrust to the fore after the national election."

In other economic news, the Census Bureau said that wholesale inventories rose 1.1% in September after increasing by an upwardly-revised 0.8% the previous month. Economists were expecting a rise of 0.4%.

The Labor Department said before the market open Friday that import prices rose 0.5% in October, compared with the flat figure expected by economists, as petroleum import costs rose 1.3%.
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