U.S. stocks ended nearly flat Friday, with the S&P 500 marginally eclipsing its previous all- time closing high, as investors were weighing the market's continued record run against upbeat retail sale data.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 18.05 points, or 0.10 percent, to 17,634.74. The S&P 500 edged up 0.49 point, or 0.02 percent, to 2,039.82, a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite Index ticked up 8.40 points, or 0.18 percent, to 4,688. 54, a fresh high since March 2000.
Despite generally positive data coming out in the day, investors hesitated to continuously push the stock market sharply higher, as major stock indices had repeatedly rewrote record book.
U.S. retail and food services sales for October increased 0.3 percent, said the Commerce Department, beating market consensus of a 0.2-percent rise. Better-than-expected retail sales showed a welcome sign as the holiday shopping season approaches.
The department said in a separate report that U.S. business inventories increased 0.3 percent in September, while business sales were virtually unchanged.
Adding more optimism into the market, U.S. consumer sentiment in November jumped to the highest level in over seven years, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan. The survey showed the preliminary consumer sentiment index registered 89.4, the strongest reading since July 2007, topping market forecast.
However, the price index for U.S. imports dropped 1.3 percent in October, mostly led by falling fuel prices, while export prices fell 1.0 percent, the Labor Department reported.
U.S. stocks have been following the up-and-down pattern in intraday trading and grinding higher over the past few days, as investors are embracing decent economic data and corporate earnings while reassessing the valuation of stocks after the recent record-setting streak.
Investors were also keeping an eye on weakening oil prices, which put pressures on energy companies' stocks but provided a boost to consumer spending.
Major indices were up for the fourth straight week, with the Dow rising 0.3 percent for the week, and the S&P 500 advancing 0.4 percent while the Nasdaq climbing 1.2 percent.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, shed 3.48 percent to end at 13.31 Friday.
In other markets, crude prices rebounded Friday on a short covering. Light, sweet crude for December delivery moved up 1.61 dollars to settle at 75.82 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for December delivery gained 1.49 dollars to close at 79.41 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped Friday on technical buying, with the most active gold contract for December delivery up 24.1 dollars to settle at 1, 185.6 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar edged down against most major currencies Friday despite overall positive economic data from the country.
In late New York trading, the euro increased to 1.2525 U.S. dollars from 1.2487 dollars in the previous session, and the greenback bought 116.25 Japanese yen, higher than 115.71 yen of the previous session.