Broken Record: Dow Up Again

The index continues its climb with yet another all-time closing high.
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Updated from 4:15 p.m. EST

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

continued its record charge Friday, overcoming early selling pressure and closing at a new all-time high with help from

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and

Altria

(MO) - Get Report

.

After starting the day to the downside, the industrials turned things around and finished ahead by 36.74 points, or 0.3%, at 12,342.56. The

S&P 500

had gains of its own, tacking on 1.44 points, or 0.1%, to 1401.20.

The

Nasdaq Composite

went the other way, shedding 3.20 points, or 0.13%, to 2445.86 as

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

took a 6.8% hit.

Even with the mixed finish, it was another winning week. The Dow ended up 1.9% for the five sessions. The S&P 500 rose 1.4%, and the Nasdaq was higher by 2.3%. Traders now look ahead to an abbreviated week coming up because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

"The focus of the market next week will be on trying to extrapolate the health of the Christmas season retail spending from the sales on the so-called 'Black Friday,'" said Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer with Oaktree Asset Management.

About 2.56 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, as decliners beat advancers by a 6-to-5 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.76 billion shares, and losers outpaced winners 3 to 2.

Before the open, the Commerce Department said housing starts plummeted 14.6% in October to 1.486 million annualized units, a six-year low. Economists had expected new-home starts to fall, but only by 4.5% from 1.77 million in September.

Meanwhile, building permits dropped 6.3% to 1.535 million, a nine-month low.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with High Frequency Economics, said that housing starts "will likely rebound modestly next month because they are now below the less-volatile permits number."

However, Shepherdson notes that "the key point though is that housing is set to be a big drag on fourth-quarter gross domestic product, more than in the third-quarter's

1.1% drop. It's not over."

After the data were released, the 10-year Treasury bond rose 16/32 to yield 4.60%. The dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

Crude oil, already at its lowest point since June 2005, lost another 45 cents to close at $55.81 in Nymex trading. For the week, the December contract gave up 6.3%. Precious metals were mixed, with gold finishing up 80 cents to $622.50 an ounce and silver slipping 14.5 cents at $12.80 an ounce.

"Once the support at $57 was broken, it only accelerated the downside," Pado said. "How crude trades on Monday will tell us how much expirations influenced the action."

Friday was options expiration, and several contracts traded for the last time.

In corporate news, Dell was originally set to post its quarterly results after Thursday's close, but the company said late Wednesday that it would delay its report because of a probe into its accounting and financials. One tech giant that did post numbers, however, was

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

.

H-P, dogged in recent months by a phone-records scandal and changes in its board, said sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 rose to $24.6 billion from $22.9 billion in the same period last year, beating expectations by $500 million. Profits, excluding items, were 68 cents a share, 4 cents higher than estimates. Still, shares of H-P lost 36 cents, or 0.9%, to close at $39.77.

Meanwhile,

Gap's

(GPS) - Get Report

earnings declined slightly, and sales for its third quarter were flat year over year at $3.86 billion. At

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

, shares fell after the company said its earnings were in line with estimates but that expenses were on the rise.

Nymex Holdings

(NMX)

, the parent company of the 134-year-old commodities and futures exchange, priced its shares at $59 in a 6.5-million-share initial public offering that raised $384 million. Nymex shares shot higher and finished trading at $132.99, up 125.4% from the initial price.

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

was one of the best-performing components on the Dow after announcing it will acquire

Conor Medsystems

(CONR)

for $1.4 billion, or $33.50 a share. J&J gained 1.1% to $67.24, while Conor shares jumped 18.8% to $32.68.

Overseas, European markets moved lower. London's FTSE 100 was down 1% to 6192, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was off 0.5% to 6412. Asia's markets were mixed. The Nikkei dipped 0.5% at 16,092, and the Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 19,182.