Global equity market rose on Friday even as weak U.S. economic reports kept many investors on edge before next week's key Federal Reserve meeting, while gold posted its worst week since June as concerns eased about a potential strike against Syria.
U.S. Treasuries edged higher after weak consumer sentiment and retail sales data bolstered the view that Fed policymakers will slow an exit from its $85 billion a month bond-buying program designed to boost American economic growth.
U.S. consumer confidence ebbed early this month and retail sales advanced just slightly in August, the latest indications of an economy barely chugging ahead.
The sluggish pace of activity was underscored by another report on Friday showing an energy-led rise in wholesale prices last month, with underlying inflation pressures subdued. The soft data was unlikely to deter the Fed from cutting its massive bond-buying as early as next week, analysts said.
Stocks on Wall Street moved higher, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its largest weekly gain in two months. "The market is up slightly today but everybody seems to be worried about what the tapering is going to be," said Brian Amidei, managing director at High Tower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 69.24 points, or 0.45 percent, at 15,369.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index . SPX was up 4.10 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,687.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 4.59 points, or 0.12 percent, at 3,720.56.
U.S. stocks will remain range-bound until resolution of next week's Fed meeting, the ongoing U.S.-Russian talks on Syria and the looming fiscal crisis in Washington, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.
"The data coming out is too good to allow (the market) to fall very far," but there is little clarity to help push it much higher, Paulsen said.
Bond prices sold off overnight and the dollar staged a rally on a report in Japan's Nikkei business daily that former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers would soon be named the Fed's new chief to replace Ben Bernanke.
While traders had doubts about the source of the report, analysts said the market reaction highlighted the sensitivity of investors to the possibility of Summers taking over the Fed. Investors say Summers might tighten monetary policy faster than the other main candidate, Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.
Asked about the Nikkei story, a White House spokeswoman said Obama had not