Stocks Rise for a Fourth Straight Week
Stocks rose for a fourth straight week, ending with a rocky session on Friday as news of help for Greece got the market off to a positive start but the sinking of a South Korean naval ship rattled the market.
The Dow gained about 10 points in today's session, but ended up more than 100 points, or 1 percent, for the week. The four-week ascent has pushed the Dow up more than 5 percent.
For the week, the Nasdaq is up 0.9 percent and the S&P 500is up 0.6 percent.
Consumer discretionary and financials were the week's best-performing sectors. Caterpillar was the leader on the Dow, up more than 5 percent this week; Citigroup was the leader on the Nasdaq, up nearly 11 percent; and, Apple was at the top of the Nasdaq 100 pack, up nearly 4 percent.
Market pros said the Korean ship incident may have simply been an excuse for traders to take some money off the table today after a four-week run.
They also said this afternoon's weakness may also have been attributed to market participants wanting to lock in profits ahead of the holiday-shortened week — and quarter's end — next week.
“Toward the end of the quarter, you do have a window-dressing going on in the markets and managers lock in performance for the quarter," said Quincy Crosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "And even though that has been part of the movement upward for the last couple of weeks, it will fade out.”
Earlier, investors cheered news that the EU and IMF reached a deal to provide a safety net for Greece. ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet said he found the plan "workable."
That gave a boost to the euro, which rallied off a 10-month low against the dollar. Commodities had been higher following the news but by early afternoon, oil lost all its gains,ending around $80 a barrel and gold prices roseto near $1,105 an ounce.
In addition to getting the health legislation this week, the Obama administration also announced a $14 billion programto try to stem a rising tide of foreclosures by giving lenders incentives to slash some mortgage debt and cut mortgage payments for the unemployed.
That puts financial reform at the top of Washington's roster. Unlike what happened with health-care stocks, where they got pummeled ahead of the legislation, financial stocks are actually at the top of the leaderboard, even amid all the uncertainty. Market pros say that's likely because no one thinks it will be too tough on banks.
Bank of America and Citi both gained 1 percent today. UBS was up more than 2 percent.
Tech stocks were also one of the top gainers this week but gave back some of their gains amid profit-taking in Oracle .
The software giant topped analyst estimates for both earnings and revenues and gave its best sales forecast in more than a year, but its shares were one of the biggest drags on the Nasdaq today as investors locked in some of their profits after running up the stock leading up to its earnings report.
Analysts like the outlook for the sector amid increasing optimism about the corporate-refresh rate for technology.
Apple hit an all-time high after Credit Suisse raised its price target to $300 from $275, saying the iPhone maker is seeing a stronger second quarter than earlier thought.
In the morning's economic news, consumer sentiment came in slightly better than expected, holding at 73.6 in the final March reading, according to a Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Economists had expected the gauge to slip to 73.
And the final reading on fourth-quarter GDP was revised lower to a 5.6-percent rate from the 5.9 percent the government originally estimated. Corporate profits grew 6.5 percent between quarters, nearly half the 12.7-percent growth logged in the third quarter. But, in year-over-year terms, corporate profits were up 31 percent, the biggest increase since 1984.
Next week, traders will be closely watching the March employment report numbers, expected on Friday. Analysts expect 107,000 jobs will be added to nonfarm payrolls, according to a poll from Thomson Reuters.
“If there’s any change in the consensus of the number for the employment that’s negative…you would see consumer names and consumer discretionary sell off, housing and banking will also be hit,” Crosby said.
Other indicators to watch next week include personal income and spending on Monday and the ISM index and auto sales on Thursday.
European shares failed to keep their positive momentum after closing at near an 18-month high Thursday, with banks the main losers. Asian stocks finished largely in the green with currency fluctuations lending momentum.
Financials have led the rally from last year's lows. Which sector will take the reins from here? Click on the market outlook video at left.
Radio Shack got a boost following a report in the New York Post that the electronics retailer could be looking for a buyer. Or, the article suggested, another possibility would be a merger with Best Buy .
A handful of retailers were higher on upgrades from JPMorgan, including Coach and Urban Outfitters.
Genzyme shares gained after Leerink Swan raised the company to "outperform" from "market perform."
Accenture shares fell after reporting Thursday that earnings fell 2.8 percent, worse than market expectations.
Volume was light once again, with about 8.61 billion shares changing hands on the three major indexes, more than 1 billion less than last year's daily average. Advancers and decliners were about even on the Big Board.
On Tap for Next Week:
MONDAY: Personal income, spending
TUESDAY: Ford analyst meeting; Case-Shiller home-price index; consumer confidence
WEDNESDAY: Fed ends mortgage-buyback, TALF programs; weekly mortgage apps; ADP employment report; Chicago PMI; factory orders; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Lockhart speaks; Feinberg speaks; Earnings from Dollar General, Rite Aid, Research In Motion
THURSDAY: March auto sales; Challenger job-cuts report; weekly jobless claims; construction spending; ISM manufacturing index
FRIDAY: March jobs report; Stock market closed in observance of Good Friday; Bond market closes at noon
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