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The market closed higher by 0.4% for the day as investors took on a bit of risk on the back of positive retail sales and consumer confidence data.  Stocks finished the week with flat gains after sharp declines earlier in the week.  Volume was very light and breadth favored the bulls by a small margin.  Daily Futures has all the action:

U.S. Economy
The U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales were up 1.3% in November, much better than expected, and up 1.9% from a year ago. Sales in October were revised down, from a 1.4% gain to a 1.1% gain. The March 2011 eurodollars were down .055 at 98.41.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index increased from 67.4 to 73.4 in early December, stronger than expected.

Grains and Cotton
The flow of soybeans to China continues: The USDA said today that China bought another 232,000 tons of U.S. soybeans. January soybeans closed up 8 cents at $10.35.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation said that beef exports were down 4% in October from a year ago. February cattle closed up 1.10 at 83.20 while extremely cold temperatures in the central U.S. slow weight gains.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation also said that pork exports were down 6% in October from a year ago. February hogs were unchanged at 65.42.

After the close, the USDA estimated this week’s beef production at 477.5 million pounds, up .7% from a year ago. Pork production was estimated at 450.3 million pounds, down 5.1% from a year ago.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, Brazil’s weather has been favorable for the developing coffee crop, but it would help if it was drier. March coffee ended down .0005 at $1.4265 in the face of cold U.S. temperatures.

March sugar closed up .74 at 24.00, the highest close in seven weeks, supported by the same old story – tight world supplies.

Orange juice
In spite of cold temperatures over most of the U.S., the ten day forecast for central Florida remains safely warm. January orange juice was up a half-cent at $1.2685.

January natural gas dropped 13.5 cents to $5.163 while bitter cold temperatures cover the northern two-thirds of the U.S. Today’s 6 to 10 day forecast from the National Weather Service expects below average temperatures for the eastern third of the U.S. and above average temperatures for the western third.

China’s industrial output was up 19.2% in November from a year ago, the biggest annual gain in over two years. In India, industrial production was up 10.3% in October from a year ago, less than expected. March copper closed up 3 cents at $3.1330.

The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics said that producer prices were up 2.9% in November from a year ago, as expected.

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