Stocks rise; S&P 500 sets record finish above 1,800 in seventh week of gains
U.S. stocks gained on Friday, with the S&P 500 recording its first close above 1,800 and the Dow posting its longest weekly win streak in nearly three years, as positive economic reports countered worries about the Federal Reserve curbing stimulus as early as December.
"The stock market is just digesting what happened yesterday," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners, referring to the market surge that came in the wake of weekly data on the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
That said, "there didn't seem to be a heck of a lot of reason to move as much as we did. Sure, the employment data looked good, but it wasn't outstanding," said Pavlik, who added that Thursday's market jump could also be pinned on five Republicans backing Janet Yellen's nomination to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve when his term expires at the end of January.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 54.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at a record 16,064.77, with Boeing pacing gains that included 23 of the blue-chip index's 30 components. After finishing above 16,000 for the first time on Thursday, the Dow set an intraday record of 16,068.78, and ended up 0.7 percent for the week, which marks a seventh consecutive weekly rise, its longest such stretch since an eight-week advance that ended Jan. 21, 2011.
Intel fell 5.4 percent, a day after the Dow components and semiconductor manufacturer's annual meeting for Wall Street analysts, at which its CEO said he expects 2014 sales to be roughly the same as this year.
Ross Stores declined after the discount retailer warned of intense competition and discounting during the holiday shopping season, and forecast fiscal fourth-quarter profit beneath Wall Street's expectations. United States Steel fell after Wells Fargo downgraded the metal producer to underperform from market perform.
The S&P 500 rose 8.91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,804.76, its first finish above 1,800, with health care the best performing and telecommunications the largest laggard of its 10 industry groups. It climbed 0.4 percent from last Friday's close, extending to seven its streak of weekly gains. The Nasdaq added 22.49 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,991.65, leaving it up 0.1 percent for the week.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a gauge of investor uncertainty, fell to 12.35.
The dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, while the 10-year Treasury yield used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 4 basis points to 2.75 percent.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery gained 30 cents to end at $1,244.60, leaving it down 3.4 percent for the week. Crude-oil for January delivery fell 60 cents to $94.84 a barrel, up 1.1 percent for the week.
Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart told CNBC on Friday that the Fed would start scaling back on its bond purchases when the economy and financial markets are ready.
"If Janet Yellen does do tapering, the message is the economy is healthy enough to weather the storm; she's only going to taper if she sees actual improvement occurring," said Pavlik of the Fed's current vice-chair, and potential moves to come under her presumed chairmanship.
That message, Pavlik added, would be "good for the market."
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson