US markets end Friday slightly higher

Wall Street closed Image copyright AFP

US markets ended slightly higher on Friday, despite a generally muted day of trading ahead of the Christmas break.

At the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 0.07%, or 14.93 points, to 19,933.81.

It was the index's seventh weekly gain although still left it shy of a new 20,000-point record.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.13% to 2,263.79 while the Nasdaq gained 0.28% to 5,462.69.

Earlier President-elect Donald Trump renewed his criticism of a costly weapons programme run by Lockheed Martin, sending its shares 1.32% lower.

Mr Trump called for rival Boeing to offer an estimate for the F-18 jet fighter, a potential alternative to Lockheed's F-35 stealth fighter.

"Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!" he tweeted.

The news hit rival defence firms Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, which lost 0.31% and 0.01% respectively. But Boeing pared earlier losses to gain 0.22%.

Other risers included Fred's, which leapt 4.23% on news that investor Alden Global Capital had taken a 25% stake in the discount store chain.

Weight Watchers International jumped 8.85%, surging for a second day after television celebrity and major shareholder Oprah Winfrey appeared in a new ad for the firm.