Stocks end week flat; Obama signs tax bill

SymbolPriceChangeAXP44.01-0.56Chart for American Express Company CommonBA65.03+0.63Chart for Boeing Company (The) Common StoMI6.85+1.06Chart for New MI Corporation Common StocORCL31.46+1.19Chart for Oracle Corporation{“s” : “axp,ba,mi,orcl”,”k” : “a00,a50,b00,b60,c10,g00,h00,l10,p20,t10,v00″,”o” : “”,”j” : “”}

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended flat on Friday as investors shrugged off encouraging economic signs and a tax-cut package expected to lift economic growth. Trading ended shortly before President Barack Obama signed a tax bill into law.

The $850 billion package extends Bush-era tax cuts for another two years and expiring unemployment benefits through next year. House Democrats had pledged to block the tax proposal, a compromise worked out between Obama and Senate Republicans. But the House passed the bill late Thursday night. Critics said the cost didn’t justify the expected boost to economic growth.

In a hopeful sign for the economy, the Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.1 percent in November, the fastest pace since March. The index — which tracks data such as orders for new goods and materials — rose 0.4 percent in October.

Stocks wavered in a tight range Friday, a day after major indexes hit two-year highs. The Dow Jones industrial average edged lower on Friday, but added 82 points over the week. The index of 30 large company shares has now gained 400 points, or 3.6 percent, over the last three weeks.

The Dow Jones fell 7.34 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 11,491.91.

The broader SP 500 eked out another 2010 high. The index rose 1.04, or 0.08 percent, to close at 1,243.91. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.66, or 0.2 percent, to 2,642.97.

Rising shares barely outpaced falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was 5.4 billion shares.

The Dow gained 0.7 percent for the week. The SP 500 rose 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent.

Bond yields fell at the end of this year’s last full week of trading. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 3.33, after notching a seven-month high of 3.56 percent on Thursday. The 10-year yield is widely used by lenders to set borrowing rates for mortgages, corporate debt and other loans.

Boeing Co. rose 1 percent to $65.03 to lead the 30 stocks that make up the Dow. American Express Co. was the index’s laggard. It fell 1.3 percent to $44.01.

Canadian bank BMO Financial Group said it will buy Wisconsin-based Marshall Ilsley Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock. BMO, which operates the Bank of Montreal, said it will repay the preferred shares that Marshall Ilsley issued as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program before the deal closes in July. Shares of Marshall Ilsley bounced 18.3 percent to $6.85.

Oracle Corp.’s stock jumped 3.9 percent to $31.46. After the market closed Thursday, the software giant reported a 28 percent rise in net income last quarter.

Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry, also said late Thursday that its third quarter earnings beat analyst expectations. The company’s stock rose 1.6 percent to $60.20.

The dollar rose 0.3 percent against an index of six countries’ currencies.

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