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U.S. stocks end flat as investors brace for earnings, Dow gains 0.13%

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Shutterstock photo - U.S. stock prices ended Friday largely flat as investors jumped to the sidelines to await more fourth-quarter earnings next week, when many players from the financial sector are due to release results.

A widening trade deficit kept investors away from stocks as well.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.13%, the S&P 500 index was largely unchanged, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.12%.

Many U.S. financial firms will release fourth-quarter earnings next week, and many investors opted to spend Friday away from trading desks to see how earnings come in.

Elsewhere, the U.S. government reported earlier that the country's trade deficit widened unexpectedly in November, expanding to USD48.7 billion from a USD42.1 billion deficit reported during the previous month.

Analysts had expected the trade deficit to narrow to USD41.3 billion in November, though gains in imports of consumer goods painted a picture of improving consumer demand in the U.S., which gave investors room to breathe easier and take on some risk, which bolstered stocks.

Consumer spending drives about 70% of total U.S. economic output.

Higher-than-expected Chinese inflation figures capped gains after fueling sentiments Beijing may hold off on stimulus measures, which would boost stock prices globally.

In a report, the National Bureau of Statistics of China reported that the country's December consumer price index rose 2.5% on year from 2.0% in the preceding month.

Analysts had expected the Chinese CPI to rise by 2.3% last month.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Microsoft, up 1.40%, Chevron, up 1.15%, and Merck, up 1.08%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included Boeing, down 2.52%, Bank of America, down 1.27%, and Pfizer, down 0.86%.

European indices, meanwhile, finished higher.

After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.35%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.08%, while Germany's DAX 30 finished up 0.09%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished up 0.33%. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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