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US Stocks Post Modest Gains Friday


The U.S. stock market lacked direction for most of the session Friday, as investors continued to take a cautious approach. But the major averages climbed higher in late trading, ending the day with modest gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up 40 points, less than .5 percent, to 9,204. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 4 points, while the tech-weighted Nasdaq composite advanced more than 1 percent.

Shares of Nokia, the world's leading mobile phone maker, traded over 5 percent higher. The Finnish company came in with third-quarter profits at the top end of its forecasts, although sales were down, and Nokia predicted a stronger fourth quarter.

But software giant Microsoft and fiber optic leader Corning weighed on the market after they issued profit warnings because of slowing demand.

The latest reading on the U.S. economy shows inflation remains under control. Higher gasoline costs pushed consumer prices up more than expected in September. But taking out energy, prices were up just .2 percent.

The market was under pressure much of the week, without a lot of movement in either direction. The Dow Industrials dropped one and a .5 percent over five sessions, while the Nasdaq lost nearly 2 percent.

Investment strategist Matt Brown believes the market is behaving in line with expectations.

"Well, it's not a surprise. We knew third-quarter earnings were going to be weak," he says. " And I think we're hearing now that the fourth quarter is not going to be the turn-around quarter we might have hoped for a few months back. We do expect the market, next year or very late this year, to come roaring back. But in this next few weeks I think it's going to be negative because of these earnings announcements. They're just not improving."

Some analysts say the market's decline this past week is not very dramatic, a little bit of profit-taking, considering the uncertainty investors have been dealing with since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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