US stocks settled higher Friday after a choppy trading day, boosted by unexpectedly strong U.S. manufacturing data, but gains were limited as the data triggered speculations that the Federal Reserve may start tapering monetary stimulus.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.80 points, or 0.45 percent, to 15,615.55 points. The S&P 500 gained 5.10 points, or 0. 29 percent, to 1,761.64 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 2.33 points, or 0.06 percent, to 3,922.04 points.
For the week, the three major stock indices ended mixed, with the Dow and the S&P 500 up 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, whereas the Nasdaq was down 0.5 percent, snapping a two-week winning streak.
The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in October for the fifth consecutive month, and the growth picked up pace from the previous month, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management reported on Friday. The manufacturing index for October edged up to 56.4 from 56.2 in September.
However, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq slipped into negative territory around midday as investors were worried the better-than- expected manufacturing data may lead to earlier Fed tapering.
Moreover, lower-than-expected quarterly earnings results from oil giant Chevron Corp. capped the market's gains. Chevron's profits fell 5.8 percent to 4.95 billion U.S. dollars in the third quarter, the company reported on Friday. Its shares dropped 1.63 percent to close at 118.01 dollars, becoming the biggest laggard of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Investors are paying close attention to remarks from several Federal Reserve officials on Friday, after the U.S. central bank announced on Wednesday that it would keep its monetary stimulus program unchanged.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday that as long as key labor market indicators continue to show cumulative improvement, the likelihood of tapering asset purchases will continue to rise. But he stressed the Fed also wants reassurance that any progress made in labor markets "will stick."
Earlier, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser told CNBC in an interview that the central bank "clearly missed" an opportunity to start trimming its 85-billion-dollar asset purchasing program in September.
In corporate news, Qunar Cayman Islands Limited shares skyrocketed 89.33 percent to close at 28.40 dollars a share on Friday, after the leading search-based online commercial platform for the Chinese travel industry wrapped up its first trading day at Nasdaq Global Market.
Apple Inc. launched its new iPad Air in stores across the globe on Friday. Shares of the tech giant dipped 0.51 percent to end at 520.03 dollars a share.
On other markets, the U.S. dollar advanced against major currencies on Friday and it continued to rise versus the euro on expectations that the European Central Bank may cut interest rates next week.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.3491 dollars from 1.3590 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.5927 dollars from 1.6053 dollars.
Oil prices dropped as dollar climbed against the euro. A stronger greenback made the dollar-priced crude more expensive and less attractive for buyers holding other currencies.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery decreased 1.77 dollars to settle at 94.61 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for December delivery lost 2.93 dollars to close at 105.91 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped on a stronger dollar, ending the week with a loss of 2.9 percent.