The Wall Street wrap for 10 December 2010

The Wall Street wrap for 10 December 2010

New York: US markets ended higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 hitting a 2 year high on an unexpected drop in the trade deficit and better consumer confidence. For the week, the dow was up 0.4%, the tech heavy nasdaq rose 1.5% and the S&P 500 increased 1.3%.

In economic news, a report showed the country’s trade balance, which measures the difference between imports and exports, was down 13%, bringing the trade deficit to a 9-month low, with exports increasing 3.2%, the most since August 2008.

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Early in the week, investors welcomed news of a compromise made to extend tax breaks for the middle class as well as unemployment benefits which are due to expire for several Americans, but on Thursday, Democrats voted against considering the tax package.

And the consumer confidence index, which measures Americans attitudes toward the economy, rose slightly in early December, more than economists expected, and indicating that Americans are spending more.

China’s central bank made further policy decisions to help control inflation and ease the heated economy by increasing the reserve ratio amount for banks to 18.5%, the 6th hike this year. Separately, a report showed that China’s trade surplus fell 16% in November, while its exports surged 35%.

In corporate news, General Electric surged 3.4% after it announced that it increased its quarterly dividend 17% to 14 cents a share.