Stocks Rally for a Fourth Straight Week
Stocks rallied Friday, bringing their winning streak to four straight weeks, after the latest employment numbers showed signs of a stabilizing job market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 114 points, or 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 each gained more than 1.4 percent, pushing the S&P back above the 1,000 mark and the Nasdaq above 2,000.
The jobs report showed 247,000 jobs were cutfrom nonfarm payrolls last month, less than the 320,000 expected, and the prior two months were revised to show 43,000 fewer jobs were lost from payrolls than first reported. The unemployment rate held at 9.4 percent.
"This is another indication that the economy is on an improving track and a confirmation that we're going to see a positive GDP number for the third quarter and we're going to be able to say that this recession ended in the third quarter of 2009," Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services, told Reuters.
After a rally on Monday that sent the S&P above 1,000 for the first time since November, stocks had languished for the past few sessions amid jitters about this jobs report.
For the week, the Dow and S&P gained more than 2 percent, while the Nasdaq gained 1.1 percent.
Earnings also helped: Of the 427 S&P companies that have reported so far, 73 percent beat expectations, 8 percent met and 19 percent missed.
Travelers had the most positive impact on the Dow this week, up 10 percent to $47.46. And American Express , which continued to rally this week, is up 75 percent year-to-date as analysts say credit problems may be stabilizing.
Procter & Gamble had the most negative impact on the Dow and S&P this week, down over 6 percent.
P&G, which makes Tide detergent and Pampers diapers, is also the Dow's worst performer year to date, down nearly 16 percent.
Since the March lows, the S&P is up nearly 50 percent, while the Dow is up 43 percent and the Nasdaq, 58 percent.
In Friday's market action:
AIG shares soared 21 percent after the insurer easily surpassed expectations, posting its first profit in seven quarters.
The shares have more than doubled this week for reasons that aren't totally clear. A short squeeze appears to be the most likely reason, rather than the earnings report.
Citigroup shares rose 1.3 percent. The bank is said to be considering a variety of options, including selling its Phibro commodities unit and cutting loose its $100 million man.
Ford slipped by GM rose after the Senate approved another $2 billionfor the "Cash For Clunkers" program.
A slew of earnings from last night beat expectations:
Nvidia shares rose 4.5 percent after the chip maker beat and a slew of firms raised their price targets on the stock.
Chiquita shares soared 16 percent after the banana maker topped forecasts, helped by cost-cutting measures, and said itsfull-year results would be "significantly improved."
Crocs shares ticked higher after the antimicrobial plastic-shoe maker beat expectations and options traders bet on a further upside for the stock.
After the bell today, we'll hear from the one company that traditionally waits for a Friday afternoon to report its earnings: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway .
Volume was average, with 1.47 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 4 to 1.
Next week kicks off with an SEC hearing on Bank of America. We'll have a trickle of a few more earnings, including Applied Materials, Macy's, Wal-Mart and JCPenney. Plus, the government's reading on retail sales, CPI, industrial production, consumer sentiment and the main event: A two-day Fed meeting, starting Tuesday.