Stocks resumed their ascent Friday, after a dip on Thursday, as investors were encouraged about the prospects for recovery after a series of analyst upgrades.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 36 points, or 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each gained about 0.3 percent. Volume was heavy on this quadruple witching day, with nearly 2.3 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 3 to 2.
Quadruple witching is the expiration of four contracts—stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures—and it happens once a quarter, bringing both bullishness and volatility to the market.
Procter & Gamble shares led the Dow today, up 3.2 percent, after Citigroup raised its rating on the stock to "buy," saying the company is about to get aggressive with pricing to win back market share.
There were a slew of other upgrades today:
Apple shares rose after an upgrade to "outperform" from Macquarie, which said it is "increasingly confident that Apple has negotiated the worst of the consumer recession" and that the iPhone would continue to dominate the smartphone market next year.
And Dow oil component Chevron got an upgrade to "outperform" from Credit Suisse, which said Chevron is among the likeliest in the sector to deliver growth in the next decade.
Homebuilders Toll Brothers and KB Home advanced after being upgraded by JPMorgan, which said the housing sector will continue to recover in the next two years.
Chip stocks got a boost after SanDisk was upgraded by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to "buy."
Among the few downgrades today was Genzyme : Deutsche bank downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy."
And Palm shares fell 3 percent after the hand-held device maker beat analyst estimates but disappointed with its outlook.
For the week, major indexes gained between 2.2 and 2.5 percent. The S&P and Nasdaq are each on pace for their seventh consecutive monthly gains.
Banks finished mixed, with Bank of America up slightly and Citigroup down 3.6 percent.
Small-cap Arena Pharmaceuticals rallied 5.5 percent after the experimental obesity drug fell short of one FDA guideline but met another and analysts said data indicated the drug was safe.
For the week, all 10 key S&P sectors advanced, led by materials, financials and industrials.
Caterpillar had the most positive effect on the Dow, up more than 10%.