Mixed End to the Week - TheStreet

Updated from 4:15 p.m. EDT

After undulating for most of the session, stocks in the U.S. closed mixed Friday as crude oil prices continued to decline and the dollar grew stronger.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

finished up 43.97 points, or 0.4%, to 11,659.90, and the

S&P 500

was better by 5.26 points, or 0.4%, at 1298.19. The

Nasdaq

shed 1.15 points, or 0.1%, to 2452.52.

For the week, the Dow lost 0.7%, the S&P 500 gained 0.1%, and the Nasdaq jumped 1.6%.

A downturn in commodities supported the market's modest gains. Crude oil lost $2.71 to settle at $112.30 a barrel, and gold gave back $22.40 to $792.10 an ounce. Those moves came as the dollar was edging upward against its major foreign competitors. The

U.S. Oil

(USO) - Get Report

exchange-traded fund lost 2.4%.

Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research, said that the downtrend in oil and strength in the dollar were the drivers for the market this week.

"The market would be healthier if it weren't a tail-wagging-the-dog type situation," he said. "Your market only seems to be able to rally if oil drops." He said that he'd prefer the market to rally on additional fundamental support in the form of raised earnings guidance from the financial sector.

Sparks also said that a neutral market performance to end the week was a bullish indicator. Traders tend to sell off positions into the weekend, he said, so neutral to positive finishes this Friday and last offer some encouragement.

Buying sentiment was briefly dented after the University of Michigan released its August consumer sentiment survey. The index improved to 61.7 from 61.2 in July, but was a bit short of economists' predictions. However, the pullback was brief, and stocks regained their footing.

Elsewhere in the realm of economic data, the New York Empire State Index for August ticked up to 2.8, a vast improvement over negative 4.9 in July and ahead of expectations for a 5-point decline.

The

Federal Reserve's

measure of July capacity utilization came in at 79.8%, in line with expectations. The June figure was revised down to 78.8% from 79.9%. Industrial production increased 0.2% in July, whereas analysts were projecting no growth for the month.

On the corporate front, software maker

Autodesk

(ADSK) - Get Report

offered earnings that topped analysts' second-quarter estimates following Thursday's close. Shares rose 12% to $38.37.

Bond insurers

Ambac

(ABK)

and

MBIA

(MBI) - Get Report

also received good news, as Standard & Poor's said it would remove the companies' key units from CreditWatch Negative and affirmed its AA ratings. Ambac soared 25% to $5.68, and MBIA climbed 8.7% to $11.22.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

was having a tougher time after JPMorgan Chase cut its third-quarter profit forecast for its fellow investment bank. The firm is now looking for Goldman to earn $2.40 a share in the quarter, well below its previous estimate of $4. The stock slipped 2.1% to $163.18.

Following Thursday's settlement by

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

of a government auction-rate securities probe,

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

on Friday agreed to buy back $9 billion in auction-rate debt from clients.

As for earnings,

JC Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

exceeded analysts' bottom-line expectations for the most recent quarter but offered guidance that fell short of estimates. Penney gained 8.4% to $39.94.

Also pleasing to Wall Street was fellow retailer

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

, which beat analyst estimates for the second quarter and raised its full-year outlook, sending the stock up 7.3% to $51.79.

Illinois Tool Works

(ITW) - Get Report

, meanwhile, reaffirmed its projections. Shares climbed 0.3% to $49.46.

In the fixed-income arena, longer-dated U.S. Treasuries were gaining ground. The 10-year note was up 12/32 in price to yield 3.84%, and the 30-year was adding 27/32, yielding 4.47%.