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Updated from 4:06 p.m. EDT

Though it certainly wasn't easy, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

attracted enough buying interest Friday afternoon to reach another record finish and edge closer to 12,000.

After the government released much weaker-than-expected retail-sales data, the Dow was pressured for much of the session. However, a late push allowed the industrials to end up by 12.81 points, or 0.11%, at 11,960.51.

Providing support were gains of 1.6% in

IBM

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

and 1.3% in

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. (HPQ) Report

.

The

S&P 500

tacked on 2.79 points, or 0.2%, to 1365.62, and the

Nasdaq Composite

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added 11.11 points, or 0.47%, to 2357.29, benefiting from a 4.7% rise in

Lam Research

(LRCX) - Get Lam Research Corporation (LRCX) Report

.

For the week, the Dow rose 110 points, or 0.9%, the S&P 500 gained 16 points, or 1.2%, and the Nasdaq was higher by 57 points, or 2.5%.

"This was not a bad week, with the Dow surpassing and reaching highs," said Paul Nolte, director of investments with Hinsdale Associates. "We may come back to retest those levels next week. The economic data hung over us today, but we saw buyers taking advantage on some names to end the day."

About 2.50 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, and volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.99 billion shares. Winners outpaced losers 3 to 2.

On Thursday, the Dow finished above 11,900 for the first time ever, rising 95.57 points to 11,947.70.

Leading the corporate news was

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report

, whose third-quarter earnings edged past Wall Street's targets. Guidance from the conglomerate was in line with estimates for the year.

GE made $5.06 billion, or 49 cents a share, from continuing operations for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from $4.59 billion, or 43 cents a share, last year. Sales rose 12% year over year to $40.86 billion. Still, shares of GE were lower by 24 cents, or 0.7%, to close at $35.98.

To view Farnoosh Torabi's video take on today's market, click here

Also weaker on the Dow were

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report

, ending lower by 2.6%,

Boeing

(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report

, down 1.5%, and

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report

, off 0.5%.

Aside from GE, another company with earnings was

J.B. Hunt Transport Services

(JBHT) - Get J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (JBHT) Report

, which posted a third-quarter profit of $57.8 million, or 39 cents a share, up from $39.8 million, or 25 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $858.2 million, up more than 7% from a year ago. Analysts expected EPS of 37 cents on sales of $873.7 million, according to Thomson First Call.

J.B. Hunt lost 54 cents, or 2.4%, to finish at $22.11, but was off another 9% in the after-hours session. Others in the sector traded higher.

Swift Transportation

(SWFT)

rose 0.5%, and

YRC Worldwide

(YRCW) - Get YRC Worldwide Inc. Report

tacked on 0.3%.

Earnings season started this week with reports from the likes of

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Alcoa Corp. Report

and

Genentech

( DNA), and next week the pace of profit reports will quicken considerably.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.4% in September, following a revised 0.1% increase in August. Economists had anticipated a 0.2% rise.

The headline number was hampered by a decline in sales at gas stations, which fell 9.3% for the month. Excluding autos, retail sales were lower by 0.5%, compared with expectations of a 0.1% dip.

Barry Hyman, equity market strategist with EKN Financial, noted that "the retail sales results were much worse than expected. I would assume this will bring the worrywarts out again. The slowing economy is going to affect consumer spending and earnings going forward."

Elsewhere, the Labor Department said its import price index dropped 2.1% in September, compared with economists' expectations of a 1.3% decline. Imported petroleum prices plummeted 10.3% in September, the largest tumble since December 2004. Excluding petroleum, import prices were up 0.1% for the month.

"The

Federal Reserve

will maintain a neutral path at this point," said Hyman. "However, we're some time away from rate cuts. The recent economic scene hasn't shown a dramatic slowdown. There is some talk still that the economy is too strong. There are some concerns still on the inflation front, but the lower energy prices are certainly going to help."

Following the economic releases, the 10-year Treasury note lost 7/32 in price, sending the yield up to 4.80%. The dollar strengthened against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Separately, the University of Michigan's preliminary read on consumer sentiment for October jumped to 92.3 from 85.4, above the consensus estimate of 86.0.

Oil prices were firming for a second day after word Norway would be reducing its output. Crude rose 71 cents to close at $58.57 a barrel. Most other energy prices were higher, as well. Gold futures added $12.40 to $592.70 an ounce, and silver was up 30 cents to $11.68 an ounce.

Among ratings moves, UBS downgraded restaurant chain

Yum! Brands

(YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) Report

to neutral from buy, citing valuation and slower U.S. sales over the near-term. Yum! fell by $1.05, or 1.8%, to $58.03.

Thomas Weisel cut its rating on

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

to peer-perform from outperform. Still, the stock managed to gain 30 cents, or 1.2%, to $24.42.

Science and engineering company

SAIC

(SAI)

began trading publicly after it raised more than $1 billion by selling 75 million shares during its initial public offering. The offer priced at $15, but the stock opened at $17 and subsequently closed at $18.18.

Meanwhile, voice-over-Internet services equipment maker

Acme Packet

( APKT) priced its IPO at $9.50 a share. The stock surged nearly 68% to end the session at $15.91.

Overseas, equities were uniformly higher. London's FTSE was adding 0.6% to 6157, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was higher by 0.2% to 6174. Tokyo's Nikkei rose 1% to 16,536, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng tacked on 0.7% to 17,989.

The earnings parade will march on next week, with

Wachovia

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and

Commerce Bancorp

(CBH) - Get AllianzGI Convertible & Income 2024 Target Term Fund Report

due to report results on Monday.