Stocks End Week Lower on Rate Hike Chatter, Sparse Macro News

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Markets closed the week lower, though benchmark U.S. indices gained over Friday's session. Stocks spent much of the day mixed with few market-moving catalysts giving investors little reason to jump in. Wall Street was watching, though, with particular interest given to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard's comments a day earlier.

U.S. markets closed in the red Thursday after Bullard told reporters in New York that the central bank should deliver its first federal funds rate hike at the end of the first quarter of 2015. Bullard has been among those pressing Fed Chair Janet Yellen and the central bank to move up the timeline for raising rates.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed flat at 16,851.84, though 0.56% lower for the week. The S&P 500 inched 0.19% higher to 1,960.96, down just 0.1% since Monday. The Nasdaq climbed 0.43% to 4,397.93.

"You have very little market-moving news but on top of that, you've got the beginning of a holiday season and the Russell reconstitution . . . that's probably causing some intra-company volatility," Drew Wilson, investment analyst at Fenimore Asset Management, told TheStreet. "It's a lot of miscellaneous stuff but nothing extreme or important to really move the markets."

European markets were relatively buoyant this morning, despite falls in Asia overnight. Economic indicators showed the U.K.'s strong recovery continued -- although analysts were slightly disappointed that the Office for National Statistics did not revise its annual growth prediction of 1.7% upwards, as forecast. Asia stocks took a hit on signs of slowing industrial profit growth out of China.

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