NEW YORK -- Optimism that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders will reach a deal on the budget deficit and avoid the "fiscal cliff" helped stocks notch their first advance in four days.
The market started lower Friday but spiked higher shortly before midday as the top members of the House and Senate spoke at the White House following a closed-door session with Mr. Obama. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both said they offered higher tax revenue as part of a deal.
"It's a good start ... the fact that they were all standing together," said Ben Schwartz, the chief market strategist at Lightspeed Financial, a New York-based broker.
Mitch Stapley, chief investment officer at Fifth Third Asset Management, says investors and traders are likely to be in for a rough ride until the politicians have brokered a deal.
"Volatility is going to be the hallmark as we go through this process. ... It's going to be a very choppy period coming up," said Mr. Stapley, who is based in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Dow still ended lower for the week, logging a fourth straight weekly decline. That slump has pared the index's gains for the year to 3 percent. The S&P 500 also ended the week lower, and has fallen three of the last four weeks.
Mixed earnings reports also weighed on stocks.