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U.S. stock market shrugs off earthquake in Japan

March 11, 2011 |  1:49 pm

The devastating earthquake off the coast of Japan had minimal impact on the U.S. stock market Friday, as the major indexes notched modest gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed back above 12,000, rising 59.79 points, or 0.5%, to 12,044.40. It recovered part of its Thursday loss of 228 points, but still finished the week down 1%.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.17 points, or 0.7%, to 1,304.28, but was off 1.3% on the week.

In Japan, the Nikkei closed down 1.7%. The market, which already was down over worries about the Middle East, fell sharply immediately after the quake before closing shortly after that for the week. Stocks in Europe were modestly lower.

Shares of some U.S. companies moved higher on the belief that firms will benefit from extensive infrastructure rebuilding in Japan. Engineering giant Fluor Corp. was up better than 4%.

Though past disasters have crimped the economy in the short term, rebuilding efforts often have spurred longer-term growth, said Brett Hammond, chief investment strategist at TIAA-CREF in New York.

“The reaction tends to be that within a couple of years you get economic growth that far outstrips the economic growth that was lost,” Hammond said.

-- Walter Hamilton

[For the record: An earlier version of this post said the S&P 500 index fell Friday. It rose 9.17 points.]

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