Dow hits record close, broader market ends flat

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NEW YORK -- Stocks finished a memorable week mostly flat Friday as investors tried to reconcile a weaker-than-expected estimate of first-quarter economic growth Friday with fresh evidence that corporate profits remain robust. A modest advance in the Dow Jones industrials sent the blue chips to their third record close in as many days.

A Commerce Department report that the U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.3% in the first quarter -- its slowest pace in four years -- unnerved some investors Friday and seemed to run counter to a parade of strong earnings reports that sent major indexes sharply higher during the week. Growth was below economists' expectations and down sharply from 2.5% in the previous quarter.

The government data also showed that pricing pressures were rising -- stirring concern that U.S. consumers may curb spending. A related report found prices excluding costs for food and energy, which can be volatile, rose at a rate of 2.2%.

The GDP data helped push the euro to a high against the dollar; the 13-nation currency rose as high as $1.3682.

Keeping stocks afloat, however, was another round of robust earnings reports -- notably from Microsoft Corp., one of the 30 companies that make up the Dow. So far, 22 of the 30 Dow components have reported earnings, and 16 have exceeded expectations.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.44, or 0.12%, to 13,120.94. The Dow set a trading high of 13,148.00 Friday after surpassing 13,000 for the first time Wednesday. The Dow's gain Friday marked the 37th record close for the index since October.

Broader indexes finished mixed Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.18, or 0.01%, to 1,494.07, while the technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index rose 2.75, or 0.11%, to 2,557.21.
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