Stocks close dismal week on a mixed note

McAfee posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit late Thursday and rose $2.92, or 9.2%, to $34.65. Tiffany rose $1.68, or 4.4%, to $39.86 after predicting fiscal 2008 earnings would beat its fiscal 2007 profit forecast, based on an expected 10% rise in global sales.

Weyerhaeuser swung to a fourth-quarter loss as the slumping housing market dampened demand for lumber; the company expects the downturn to extend through the year. Weyerhaeuser fell $2.37, or 3.7%, to $62.34.

And Alcatel-Lucent reported a $3.8 billion loss in the fourth quarter, eliminated its 2007 dividend, and predicted that 2008 would be a difficult year. Shares of the Franco-American company, which makes telecommunications equipment, fell 25 cents, or 4%, to $6.

The mix in corporate success has made it hard to determine how weak the economy is getting.

Data on Friday showing a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. wholesalers' inventories provided Wall Street with little new evidence about the economy's health. An increase can be positive, suggesting that companies are betting on a rise in demand, but it can also serve as a worrisome sign that inventories are building up unintentionally because demand is waning.

The dollar fell against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.45 billion shares.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.85, or 0.6%, to 698.93.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei average closed down 1.4%. In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.1%, Germany's DAX index rose 0.5%, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.3%.

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