By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Wall Street stocks closed higher on Friday, with market-leading growth shares kick-starting indexes' climb as investors looked past disappointing U.S. economic data.
Despite their advances, all three major U.S. stock indexes ended the session below last Friday's close, ending a five-week streak of weekly gains.
The University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment data for November unexpectedly dropped to a 10-year low, and a Labor Department report showed job openings barely budged from record highs even as workers are quitting in record numbers.
"Markets drifted higher today despite a very weak consumer sentiment report, as inflation seems to be hurting consumers more than corporate profits," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.
The souring mood of the consumer could be worrisome to retailers as the holiday shopping season draws near, and is likely to draw intensified scrutiny to upcoming retail earnings reports.
"Investors will be focused on guidance from retailers to determine if inflation will crimp profit margins or if costs can be passed through," Carter added.
Retail results will herald the last days of what was a largely upbeat third-quarter earnings season. As of Friday, 459 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported. Of those, 80% delivered consensus-beating earnings, according to Refinitiv.
Ten of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 ended higher, with communications services' 1.7% advance leading gainers. Energy's 0.3% dip represented the largest percentage loss.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) gained 1.2% after the healthcare giant announced splitting into two companies, dividing its consumer health care segments from its pharmaceuticals/medical devices business.
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) Inc dropped 2.8% on news that Chief Executive Elon Musk has sold an additional $700 million in stock in the next chapter of a saga that began with Musk's infamous Twitter poll on whether he should offload shares in the company he founded.
Rival electric automaker Rivian Automotive Inc advanced 5.7%, notching its third consecutive gain in as many days as a publicly traded company.
U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA ) Group Holding slipped 0.6% following the e-commerce giant's report showing its slowest-ever Singles Day sales.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 34 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 130 new highs and 96 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.32 billion shares, compared with the 10.94 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
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