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Dow Touches 11,000, Closes Just Below

The Dow closes at 10,997 after crossing 11,000 minutes before the close Friday.
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) -- The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

briefly edged above 11,000 Friday, but finished just below the mark, as promising economic data and waning Greece debt fears helped power the assent, while investors began looking to company earnings next week.

The Dow, which finished the day after adding 70 points, or 0.6%, to 10,997, crossed the 11,000-point threshold near the closing bell for the first time since September 2008. The

S&P 500

improved 8 points, or 0.7%, to 1194, while the


went ahead by 17 points, or 0.7%, at 2454.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq also led the other major averages for the week, adding 2.1%. The S&P gained 1.4% since last Thursday's close, while the Dow picked up 0.6%.

Earlier in the day, Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners, said traders were "still looking at a nondeteriorating economy, one that's getting a little bit better," following Thursday's promising retail sales figures. Friday also brought positive wholesale inventory news.

Optimism and speculation about a nearing Greek debt fix helped calm markets. Particular details of a backstop rescue plan were being cobbled together,

The Associated Press

reported, as unnamed EU sources said participants focused on interest rates to be charged on loans. An earlier report said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet asserted that "default is not an issue for Greece."

But Fitch Ratings cut the country's credit rating to BBB- from BBB+ with a negative outlook, reports say, adding that Greece will probably get the support needed but markets will need clarity on the safety net program to bolster confidence.

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"The downgrade in Greece was really just a blip in the market," Nolte said. "I think the IMF is going to get involved. Maybe the downgrade is going to open the door to get them more involved, so we'll see how that plays out.

"But I think now the market will shift their focus from economic and global issues to much more to the earnings data," Nolte added, citing Monday's coming earnings report from


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JPMorgan Chase

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Advanced Micro Devices

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Bank of America

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General Electric

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are also among a gaggle of companies reporting earnings next week.

The FTSE in London gained 1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt rose 1.3%. Also, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.6%, and Japan's Nikkei rose 0.3%.

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The Economy

In the

only major economic data announcement Friday, managers built up inventories at the wholesale level at a far brisker pace than expected in February. Wholesale inventories rose 0.6% after edging up by a revised 0.1% in January, the Commerce Department said. The government originally said inventories fell by 0.1% in January. The February total surpassed consensus estimates provided by

, as Wall Street expected a 0.4% rise during the month.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's three-day investigation into the role that

subprime lending and securitization played in the financial crisis continued with testimony from former

Fannie Mae



Elsewhere, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a member of the high court's more liberal wing,

says he will retire this summer. Amid an already full slate of policy objectives, the vacancy gives the White House its second Supreme Court confirmation battle since President Barack Obama took office.


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Company News

Private-equity firms KKR and Bain Capital are preparing

initial public offerings for toy retailer

Toys "R" Us

, hospital chain


and chip company

NXP Semiconductors

, according to

The Wall Street Journal




chief technology officer and chief product officer Ari Balogh is leaving the company, according to a Yahoo! statement.

Research In Motion


said it will buy QNX Software Systems from audio products firm

Harmon International


in a bid to "enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems," according to a press release. RIM was adding 0.4%, or 29 cents, to $69.97, while Harmon traded 1.5% higher, or 72 cents, to $49.18.

A group of 18 banks, including the likes of

Goldman Sachs

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JPMorgan Chase

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masked some debt levels

just before reporting over the last five quarters, according to an item first reported in

The Wall Street Journal.

DISH Network

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got an upgrade by analysts at UBS and saw its target raised at Citigroup, which helped propel shares 3.5% higher today.

Shares of

Ambac Financial


, which surged 71% to $1.10, saw heavy volume second only to


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on the

New York Stock Exchange

. Shares were rallying off of late Thursday news, when the bond insurance concern posted an unforeseen profit in the fourth quarter. Listed volume on the NYSE stood at 4.5 billion.

In an interim update released late Thursday,


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said its downstream operations, which includes its refining segment, is expected to reflect a profit in the first quarter on better refining margins. Shares improved 2.4% to $79.50, making it the Dow's top performer.

The news also gave a lift to much of the energy sector, with major names like

Exxon Mobil

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trading decidedly higher.

Alcoa, which is scheduled to kick off earnings season on Monday with its first-quarter report, languished as the Dow's steepest decliner after receiving a downgrade at JPMorgan. Shares shed 4% to finish at $14.27.



was the most active stock on the Nasdaq, as numerous reports cited continuing takeover speculation fueling shares to an 11% gain on the day.

Shares of

Constellation Brands

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, maker of alcoholic drinks like Corona and St. Pauli Girl, slipped 2.5% after offering an underwhelming outlook in its morning earnings announcement.


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Commodities and the Dollar

The May crude oil contract was dipped 47 cents lower, to settle at $84.92 a barrel. The

June gold contract, meanwhile, rose $9 to finish at $1,161.90 an ounce.



was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.7%.


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The benchmark 10-year Treasury strengthened 2/32, diluting the yield to 3.883%.

The two-year note was little changed with the yield holding at 1.064%. The 30-year bond gained 7/32, weighing the yield down to 4.739%.

--Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York



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