Stocks End Modestly Higher

Better-than-expected earnings from Dell and Analog Devices could lift the tech sector Friday. Also on deck: Reports on consumer sentiment and trade

Stocks ended Thursday's session with modest gains, as lower housing starts and an unimpressive Philadelphia Fed index did little to inspire a headlong rush into equities ahead of Friday's option expiration. Telecom and retail stocks were higher, while drug and biotech shares fell.

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