By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday and the Dow registered its best weekly gain since January, helped by a rise in Intel (INTC) shares, though trading was subdued ahead of the Federal Reserve's expected reduction of stimulus measures next week.
Despite indications economic growth slowed somewhat in the third quarter, traders expect the Fed to trim its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases by $10 billion while leaving interest-rate policy highly accommodative to help the economy - and be supportive of equities.
The Dow, up 3 percent for the week, has one more week of trading with its current 30 constituents. After that, the average will add Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Nike (NKE.N) and Visa (V.N), replacing Alcoa (AA.N), Bank of America (BAC.N) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N). Visa rose 7 percent this week.
All three indices got their biggest lift on Friday from Intel (INTC), whose shares gained 3.6 percent to $23.44, after Jefferies boosted its rating on the chipmaker and raised its price target to $30 per share.
The S&P 500 rose 2 percent for the week, its best gain in about two months, yet its trading range has narrowed sharply this week and that trend is expected to continue until the Fed announcement. The Nasdaq posted a 1.7 percent gain for the week.
"Next week, the Fed discussion and tapering, and where they land, is big news for the marketplace and, more importantly, how the market interprets what the Fed is either doing or not doing," said Vernon Meyer, chief investment officer of Hartford Funds in Radnor, Pennsylvania.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) was up 75.42 points, or 0.49 percent, at 15,376.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (^GSPC) was up 4.57 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,687.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index (^IXIC) was up 6.22 points, or 0.17 percent, at 3,722.18.
Among other gainers for the day, shares of Safeway (SWY.N) jumped 6.1 percent to $28.20 after Credit Suisse upgraded the supermarket operator's stock.
Coal sector shares fell before next week's unveiling by regulators of a carbon emissions-rate standard for new fossil fuel power plants. Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) dropped 2.4 percent to $6.21, Peabody Energy (BTU) lost 3.2 percent to $17.98 and Arch Coal (ACI) fell 3.3 percent to $4.69.
The day's economic data showed retail sales rose for a fifth consecutive month in August, though the increase was smaller than the market expected. U.S. consumer confidence slipped early this month and inflation pressures remained subdued even after an energy-led increase in wholesale prices last month.
Volume was among the lightest of the year for a full day of trading, with less than 5 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, well under the average daily closing volume of about 6.3 billion this year.
Advancers beat decliners on the NYSE by about 1.6 to 1 while on the Nasdaq advancers beat decliners by about 1.5 to 1.
(Editing by Nick Zieminski, Kenneth Barry and Ken Wills)