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Stocks Close Higher; Dow Up 360 Points or 1.1%, Nasdaq Up 2.3%

Stocks end sharply higher Friday but still posted weekly declines. Retail sales were unchanged in April.

Stocks finished sharply higher Friday as the inflation fears that shook investors earlier in the week eased a bit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 360 points, or 1.06%, to 34,382, the S&P 500 gained 1.49% and the Nasdaq jumped 2.32%. 

But for the week, the Dow industrials gave up 1.1%, the S&P 500 lost 1.4% and the Nasdaq dropped 2.3%

Some of the biggest movers on the Dow Friday included Salesforce  (CRM) - Get Report, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Report and Boeing  (BA) - Get Report.

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Cruise ship operators Carnival  (CCL) - Get Report, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  (NCLH) - Get Report and Royal Caribbean Group  (RCL) - Get Report were among the S&P 500's top gainers.

American Airlines Group  (AAL) - Get Report, Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Report and United Airlines Holdings  (UAL) - Get Report also finished higher.

On Thursday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t have to wear a mask or socially distance in most places.

U.S. April retail sales were unchanged from last month at a collective $619.1 billion, the Commerce Department said. That was well shy of Wall Street's consensus forecast of a 1% gain. The March total, however, was revised sharply higher, to a gain of 10.7%.

"The disappointing retail sales numbers shouldn’t really come as a huge surprise, given that last month encompassed stimulus money hitting bank accounts," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade.

"A flat retail sales read is actually par for the course in a normalized environment so in a way this actually shows that retail is somewhat stabilizing."

So while on its own this read is not likely to move the needle in either direction, Loewengart said, "it probably supports the point of view that the dip we experienced this week is a buying opportunity as all sectors march toward full recovery."

Zoom Video Communications  (ZM) - Get Report, was up 6.1% after Mizuho affirmed the videoconference technology company at buy and called it a buying opportunity.

The investment firm cut its price target on Zoom to $400 from $550, saying that multiples in the high-growth software sector have recently contracted.

Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Report traded 2.6% lower after the entertainment giant added fewer-than-expected streaming customers in its fiscal second quarter.

The company said its Disney+ streaming service ended the quarter with 103.6 million customers, below analysts' estimates of 109.3 million.

According to Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts PLUS team, which holds Disney in its portfolio, the streaming estimates appeared to be too optimistic. A great deal of demand was pulled forward by the pandemic, similar to what Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Report experienced in its quarter.

Despite the miss, Disney backed its guidance for 230 million to 260 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024.

Stocks finished sharply higher Thursday, rising for the first time in four sessions, as investors weighed a jump in producer prices against a fall in weekly jobless claims.

General Electric  (GE) - Get Report moved 2.3% higher Friday after analysts at Citigroup reinstated their coverage of the industrial group with a buy rating and a $17 price target.

Oil prices were up 2.4%, while the benchmark 10-year note yields were down 0.033 to 1.635%.

Bitcoin was trading above $50,000 after Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report Chief Executive Elon Musk called the world's biggest cryptocurrency's energy usage trend "insane."

Meanwhile, meme-based cryptocurrency Dogecoin surged after Musk tweeted he was working to develop more efficient transactions for the token.