US stocks close higher

New York: US stocks ended the week on a positive note as Wall Street digested a slew of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 50.46 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 29,348.10 on Friday. The S&P 500 rose 12.81 points, or 0.39 percent, to 3,329.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 31.81 points, or 0.34 percent, to 9,388.94, Xinhua reported.

Nine of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors closed higher, with communication services up 0.9 percent, leading the gainers. Energy declined 0.66 percent, the worst-performing group.

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On the data front, US privately-owned housing starts jumped 16.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million units in December, the Department of Commerce reported Friday. Economists polled by Reuters forecast housing starts would increase to a pace of 1.375 million units in December.

Wall Street also paid close attention to corporate earnings.

The fourth-quarter corporate earnings season kicked off this week, with low expectations for profit growth. Earnings are expected to decline by 0.6 percent for the S&P 500, Refinitiv estimated.

More than 8 percent of the S&P 500 has reported quarterly results thus far, according to FactSet. Of those companies, 72 percent have posted better-than-expected earnings.

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