U.S. stock benchmarks opened modestly higher on Friday, putting stocks on pace to produce strong weekly gains, even as data on the day came at cooler than expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.54% gained 46 points, or 0.2%, at 25,755, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.50% advanced 0.1% to 2,812, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.76% added 0.4% to 7,658. For the week, the Dow DJIA, +0.54% is set to rise 1.2%, the S&P 500 is headed for weekly gain of 2.6%, while the Nasdaq is on track for a 3.4% weekly advance, which would mark the best weekly gains for those benchmarks since the period ended Feb. 15, according to FactSet data. In economic reports, a reading of U.S. industrial output showed a slower-than-expected rise in February, while manufacturing output declined for the second consecutive month. A separate reading on manufacturing in the Empire state area also was weaker than expected. The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index fell to a reading of 3.7 in March from 8.8 in the prior month
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