Stocks End Strong Week Flat

Stocks ended a strong week little changed on Friday, as traders balanced rising oil prices and falling consumer confidence with an unexpected jump in home construction.

The Nasdaq ended the week 3.4% higher and at its highest level since early January, as traders continue to bet that the worst of the credit crisis is behind them. The Nasdaq has advanced nearly 400 points, or 18%, off its mid-March low, when the Federal Reserve’s rescue of Bear Stearns put a floor under the credit market meltdown.

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) was also little changed Friday, shedding 0.3% as the company responded to billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s proxy threat.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) continued its strong run, adding another 3.3% for a six-day gain of 14%. The company reports quarterly results at the end of the month, and may be benefiting from its lack of a negative pre-announcement ahead of those results. It could also be gaining from the perception that HP’s (NYSE: HPQ) acquisition of EDS (NYSE: EDS) could distract it from its hardware battle with Dell.

BMC (NYSE: BMC) and Compuware (NASDAQ: CPWR) gained on their quarterly results, and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) benefited from another upgrade, this time from Oppenheimer.

The Nasdaq lost 5 to 2528, the S&P rose 2 to 1425, and the Dow slipped 6 to 12,986. Volume rose to 3.84 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.29 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by an 18-15 margin on the NYSE, while decliners led 16-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 47% on the NYSE, and 51% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 174-66 on the NYSE, and 78-96 on the Nasdaq.

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