U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for the largest weekly gain in two months, though trading was subdued because the Federal Reserve is expected to scale back its 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.
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.
The trading range of the S&P 500 has narrowed sharply this week and that trend is expected to continue until the Fed announcement.
"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 HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.
Giving the S&P 500 its biggest lift was Intel Corp (INTC.O), whose shares gained 3.1 percent to $23.34 after Jefferies boosted its rating on the chipmaker and raised its price target to $30 per share.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 65.05 points, or 0.43 percent, at 15,365.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 4.15 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,687.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 5.48 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,721.45.
The S&P 500 is up nearly 2 percent for the week, its largest gain since mid-July. The Dow's current 3 percent weekly advance is its biggest since the first week of the year.
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.N) dropped 2.8 percent to $6.18, Peabody Energy (BTU.N) lost 2.9 percent to $18.04 and Arch Coal (ACI.N) fell 2.9 percent to $4.71.