US stocks finish higher after up-and-down trade

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks finished higher Friday following a choppy day of trade as investors weighed some solid retail earnings reports with mixed economic data.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 46.05 points (0.28 per cent) to 16,492.86.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 7.05 (0.38 per cent) at 1,877.90, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 21.30 (0.52 per cent) to 4,090.59.

Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management, said better-than-expected earnings from retailers Nordstrom and J.C. Penney boosted sentiment.

Yet Blicksilver noted all three stock indices were in negative territory for much of the day until a rally lifted the market about an hour before closing.

"It's a very mixed kind of tape," he said.

The Commerce Department said that overall housing starts rose 13.2 per cent in April from March. However, most of the gains were in the often-volatile multi-family units, while the rise in the economically more important single-family home sector was weak.