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Wall St gains after three-day decline

Friday, December 13 15:36:50

U.S. stocks were modestly higher today, bouncing back after a three-day drop, though market participants remained cautious ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting next week.

Data showing a third straight month of decline in producer prices supported the day's gains as it pointed to a lack of inflation that could give the Federal Reserve pause as it weighs the future of its monthly bond purchases.

Investors have been concerned that recent signs of strength in the economy may persuade the Fed, which holds a two-day policy meeting next week, to soon scale back its market-friendly stimulus.

"The market is digesting a three-day decline, taking a pause from the selloff. Once we get the Fed news out of the way next week, then I expect the seasonal factor to kick in and we may see historical highs again leading up to the new year," said Ryan Detrick, analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Despite the day's gains, the S and P 500 index was on track to end the week lower. The benchmark was now set for its worst decline since the end of August.

Global equities were headed for their biggest two-week drop since June and the dollar hit 5-year highs against the yen on Friday amid concern U.S. stimulus may be wound down following the Fed policy meeting on Dec. 17-18.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.97 points or 0.03 percent, to 15,744.4, the S and P 500 gained 0.87 points or 0.05 percent, to 1,776.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.994 points or 0.22 percent, to 4,007.397.