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Stocks Finish Tough Week With Slight Gains


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. averages edged up Friday as a strong read on American consumer confidence provided a slight respite from worries about the fiscal cliff and the eurozone.

Stocks pared early gains, however after President Barack Obama addressed the U.S. fiscal cliff at the White House's East Room on Friday afternoon. Congress is expected to begin tackling the issue next week. Obama reiterated his belief that higher taxes for wealthy Americans will be necessary to address the deficit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added a little more than 4 points, or 0.03%, to close at 12,815. The blue-chip index lost 2.12% for the week, its worst performance in more than five months. Year-to-date, it's still up 4.89%.

Breadth within the Dow was positive with winners ahead of losers, 18 to 12. The leading blue chips were Boeing(BA) , Caterpillar(CAT) , and AT&T(T) .

The biggest percentage decliners among the blue chips were Walt Disney (DIS) , UnitedHealth Group (UNH) , and Hewlett Packard (HPQ) .

Shares of Walt Disney fell 6% after the media and entertainment giant posted an in-line quarterly profit after Thursday's closing bell as net income rose 14% year-over-year but revenue came up short of the consensus estimate.

The S&P 500 rose more than 2 points, or 0.17%, to finish at 1380. The index closed down 2.43% for the week, also its worst performance in five months, but remains up 9.72% year-to-date.

The Nasdaq settled up more than 9 points, or 0.32%, at 2905. The technology-heavy index lost 2.59% this week and is now holding 11.50% gain for 2012.

Breadth was roughly even on both exchanges. Volume totaled 3.63 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.80 billion on the Nasdaq.

The strongest sectors in the broad market, which was mostly positive, were capital goods, health care, and technology. Transportation, basic materials and utilities were in the red.

"Concerns over the fiscal cliff are heating up -- a move away from riskier assets and the U.S. dollar as a safe haven -- which means the coming few weeks could be a long slog before the year ends," said Christopher Vecchio, an analyst at DailyFX.

"If bickering between Democrats and Republicans ensues, expect coal this Christmas instead of a Santa Claus rally," Vecchio continued. "We'll get our first insights into the debt negotiations today when the reinvigorated President, fresh off of Tuesday's win, will address the nation on the fiscal cliff shortly after the lunch hour."

The Congressional Budget Office repeated its projections Thursday that if significant tax increases and spending cuts are allowed to go into effect in January they will probably cause the economy to fall back into a recession next year.

Concerns about Greece's stability have returned as well after reports that the European Union won't decide on whether to provide the next round of bailout funds for the country until sometime next week, even though the Greek parliament did manage to pass a new, tough austerity package by a narrow margin this week.