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July 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Stock markets managed to paddle aside a stream of negative news this week, riding a tidal wave of earnings to modest gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the week up 0.4 percent to 12,822.57 points.

The week was dominated by gloomy prescriptions about the state of the US and global economy.

The International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecast for the rest of the year, citing "signs of further weakness."

Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke gave a dark assessment of the economy but said the Fed would act if the situation gets worse, lending some support to equities.

"Despite no hint of easing, Bernanke did reiterate that the Federal Reserve was prepared to react should the economy deteriorate further," said analysts at Wells Fargo Advisors.

The data did not help improve sentiment.

US retail sales fell by 0.5 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported. Most analysts estimated they climbed 0.2 percent.

US jobless claims rose almost 10 percent from the previous week adding to fears that unemployment will remain stubbornly above eight percent for a while longer.

The National Association of Realtors reported sales of existing, or previously occupied, homes fell 5.4 percent in June from May, instead of an expected rise.

But company news, particularly the tech sector, provided a modest boost for markets.


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