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Market Hustle: Stocks Close Mixed as Bernanke Trumpets Progress

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. markets closed mixed on Friday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his final prepared speech which emphasized that the U.S. economy has made considerable progress since the recovery began.

  • The S&P 500 shed 0.03% to close at 1,831.37, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.17% to 16,469.99. The Nasdaq was off 0.27% to 4,131.91. For the week, the S&P, Dow and Nasdaq closed lower by 0.54%, 0.05% and 0.59%, respectively.
  • Bernanke said the U.S. economy has made "considerable progress" since the recovery began in 2009. "The U.S. recovery appears to be somewhat ahead of those of most other advanced industrial economies," Bernanke said, according to prepared remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia, PA. "Nevertheless, I see some grounds for cautious optimism abroad as well."
  • Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser warned Friday that the central bank may have to be aggressive in lifting interest rates if banks were to quickly release reserves - noting the Fed was often late when starting a tightening cycle. Also expected to speak at the Philadelphia meeting are Fed Governor Jeremy Stein at 1:15 p.m. while Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks in Baltimore at 1:30 p.m. 
  • Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is expected to take over as Fed chair on Feb. 1 after Bernanke finishes his second term on Jan. 31. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Yellen's appointment as Fed chair on Monday, at around 5:30 p.m. December auto sales numbers will be published at 2 p.m. EST.
  • FireEye (FEYE) shares popped 38.6% to $57.02 after it announced it will acquire computer forensics company Mandiant for $1.05 billion in cash and stock, and raised 2014 revenue guidance based on the acquisition. Facebook (FB) lost 0.29% to $54.55. The company is facing a class-action lawsuit over claims the social networking giant monitors users' private messages to sell the data to advertisers, The Financial Times reported. Major banks were top gainers, including Bank of America (BAC) - up 1.9% to $16.41 after being upgraded to a buying rating from Citigroup yesterday, while JP Morgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GM) were also rising. Delta Airlines (DAL) was the top gainer in the S&P 500, up 5.5% to $29.23. Airlines are being favored for their pricing power in an oligopolistic market. T-Mobile (TMUS) slipped 3.3% to $32.28 as rival AT&T targets its customers by offering as much as $450 in credits if they switch. 
  • U.S. markets sank on the first trading day of 2014 amid signs of slowing manufacturing in China and as investors accepted the likelihood that the next 12 months won't match 2013.
  • The Hang Seng closed 2.2% lower at 22,817.28 while the Nikkei finished 0.7% higher at 16,291.31. Germany's DAX rose 0.37%, while London's FTSE closed up 0.19%. 
-- Written by Jane Searle and Joe Deaux in New York

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