Stocks Higher for Week But Mixed for Month
Stocks closed mixed, with technology shares posting big gains, ending the a holiday-shortened week on a mostly positive note.
A tech rally pushed the Nasdaq Composite Index up sharply as computer maker Dell's strong results signaled businesses were maintaining their spending.
But rising oil prices spurred uneasiness, leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower and the S&P 500 up slightly.
For the week, the Dow rose 1.3 percent, the S&P gained 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 3.2 percent.
It was also the last trading day of May, with the Dow falling 1.4 percent for the month but the S&P gaining 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq jumping 4.6 percent.
Stocks moved in a tight range all session, moved little by economic news earlier in the day that showed moderating inflation and consumer spending in line with forecasts.
Much of the impetus for the tech gain came after Dell reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales Thursday, citing strong demand for laptops and lower operating costs. Dell led gainers on the S&P.
The trading day was setting up as another example of the market reacting to news that wasn't disastrous, even though the nearly flat growth in wages showed a sputtering economy.
"It's the last day of the month and you've got a lot of these indices at or near their 200-day moving averages," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS. "The S&P in fact is critical. If they can get it to close above, for argument's sake, 1,405, then they may turn the whole monthly chart around. ... The final hour's going to be watched very closely here to see if there's any gamesmanship going on to try and put them over the top."
J Crew Group shares fell as much as 22 percent, making the upscale apparel retailer the biggest loser on the New York Stock Exchange and sending a wake-up call to those who believed the company could insulate itself from the U.S. spending pullback.
At least four brokerages cut their price targets on the New York-based company, which has seen double-digit sales growth in recent years due to what it calls its unique apparel and accessories that shoppers are hard pressed to find elsewhere.
"I feel this is a reality check for what has been an overvalued stock," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe.
Dow component AIG rose after Morgan Stanley upgraded the insurance giant, saying recent pessimisim about its financial condition is overdone.
Marvell Technology, whose microchips are used in Apple's iPhone, also boosted the tech index, a day after the company reported a first-quarter profit. The company's shares were upgraded by JPMorgan and surged more than 20 percent after the opening bell to be among the top percentage gainers on the Nasdaq.
New York light crude futures reversed earlier losses and pushed oil above $127 a barrel.
In earnings, jewelry retailer Tiffany reported a 19 percent increase in first-quarter profit, sending shares up 4.5 percent in premarket trading.
Financials were among the biggest drags on the Dow, the day after the sector moved broadly higher.
The biggest losers of the group were Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.