Stocks end week with best gains of the year

|By:, SA News Editor

Stocks shrugged off mixed economic data to finish broadly higher, wrapping up the S&P's best week of the year and pushing the Nasdaq to its highest level since July 2000.

Stocks got off to a weak start following data showing a surprise drop in industrial production for January, but the market turned higher after the preliminary consumer sentiment number for February beat forecasts.

Recent U.S. economic numbers - particularly labor market and retail sales data - haven't looked good, but investors have been willing to chalk results up to bad weather; recent strength in emerging markets, which were a source of worry last month, also has provided a dose of optimism.

Most key S&P sectors closed in positive territory, led by energy and consumer staples.

Gold futures gained 1.4% to settle at $1,318.60 for an eighth straight gain to finish week up 4.4%; the 10-year Treasury yield edged higher to ~2.74%.