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Stocks Close Roughly Flat Following Choppy Trading Day

With traders seemingly reluctant to make any significant moves, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Friday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the day roughly flat. While the Nasdaq inched up 0.24 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 5,901.00, the Dow slipped 19.93 points or 0.1 percent to 20,914.62 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.13 points or 0.1 percent to 2,378.25.

For the week, the Nasdaq advanced by 0.7 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 edged up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders continued to digest Wednesday’s closely watched monetary announcement from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed announced a widely anticipated quarter point increase in interest rates and projected two additional rate hikes this year.

A meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors being held in Germany over the next two days also kept some traders on the sidelines.

Given the protectionist views of the Trump administration, it remains to be seen whether the final statement from the meeting will contain a pledge to resist all forms of protectionism.

Traders largely shrugged off the latest batch of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Fed showing that industrial production was unexpectedly flat in February.

The Fed said industrial production was unchanged in February after edging down by a revised 0.1 percent in January. Economists had expected production to rise by 0.2 percent.

A jump in mining output and a continued increase in manufacturing output were offset by another slump in utilities output amid unseasonably warm weather.

The University of Michigan released a separate report showing a bigger than expected rebound in consumer sentiment in March.

The preliminary report showed that the consumer sentiment index rose to 97.6 in March after dropping to 96.3 in February. Economists had…

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