The use of the active voice in this case is fairly recent, but acceptable in current writing. Your friend's advice would have been right when I was a boy, but modern journalism favours the active.
PPS I think the reason may be that investors prefer to think that something inanimate is inflicting them with either failure or fortune. Use of the active voice also saves words - an important consideration in journalism. Rather than 'at the close of trading, the price of Acme stock was $N' it's quicker to say 'Acme closed up at $N'.