Trade data helps S&P, Nasdaq to post-crash highs

The S&P 500 punched to a new five-year high Friday and the Nasdaq to its best since 2000, as stocks regained footing helped by a sharply narrowed US trade deficit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also reached a post-crisis high above 14,022 during trade, but slipped back to end up 48.92 points (0.35 percent) at 13,992.97.

The S&P 500 index rose 8.54 (0.57 percent) to 1,517.93, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 28.74 (0.91 percent) to 3,193.87.

The indices were still shy of their all-time closing records struck on October 9, 2007, of 1,564.15 for the S&P and 14,164.53 for the Dow. The Nasdaq last saw Friday's level in 2000 as markets plunged in the dot-com crash.

Friday's trade was buoyed by December US trade figures showing a sharp narrowing of the country's trade deficit, helped by a surge in oil exports and a parallel fall in the oil import bill.

The smaller trade deficit "implies positive GDP growth for the fourth quarter," after the initial estimate of an 0.1 percent contraction, said economist Harm Bandholz of UniCredit.

Bullishness also came from China's report that its trade surplus rose and inflation eased in January, adding to recent evidence the world's number-two economy is emerging from a drawn-out downtrend.

The Dow was led higher by Hewlett-Packard, which put on 2.6 percent amid speculation that the company could be broken up in the wake of PC industry rival Dell's going private.

Debt rater Moody's sank 7.7 percent, bringing its week loss to 21.6 percent, as speculation mounted that it could be in federal and state authority sights over its rating of mortgage securities, after Standard & Poor's was sued for allegedly exaggerating such ratings before the financial crisis.

S&P parent McGraw-Hill lost 2.6 percent, taking its fall for the week to 26.9 percent.

Online professional network LinkedIn jumped 21.3 percent after it smashed fourth-quarter earnings estimates and issued bullish predictions for 2013.

Apple put on another 1.4 percent as it fielded pressure from shareholders to share out its $137 billion cash hoard.

Bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held at 1.95 while the the 30-year Treasury edged up to 3.17 percent from 3.16. Bond prices and yields move inversely.