Stocks End Wobbly Week With a Flourish

Stocks rallied to the finish Friday, led by financials and techs, as a tame core-inflation reading and lower oil helped the market end a chaotic week on a high note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.4 percent, while the S&P 500 index gained 1.5 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 2.1 percent.

For the week, the Dow gained 0.8 percent, the S&P finished flat and the Nasdaq slipped 0.8 percent. McDonald's was the biggest gainer on the Dow, rising more than 5 percent this week, while Apple was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq 100 and S&P, falling more than 7 percent, as traders sold off the stock as soon as news of the new 3G iPhone hit and worried about the health of founder Steve Jobs.

Lehman Brothers jumped 14 percent Friday, snapping a five-day losing streak as some short sellers unwound their bets against the brokerage heading into the weekend following Thursday's news that Lehman was demoting two of its top officers.

Still, Lehman shares are down 20 percent this week.

(How did Lehman make such a colossal PR blunder? Click on the video at left.)

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs each gained 7 percent ahead of earnings from the firms next week. Lehman is also scheduled to report.

Yay for the big banks but not so much for the little guys, who got hammered amid chatter about dividend cuts.

KeyCorp fell 2.1 percent, piling on to its 24-percent decline from Thursday, after the Midwest bank said it raised $1.65 billion in a stock offering to raise capital, 10 percent more than it had expected. The news comes a day after the bank cut its dividend in half and announced a big charge after losing a tax case.

Fifth Third was the biggest bank loser, off a whopping 11 percent after an analyst downgraded the stock, saying it may be the next bank to slash its dividend and raise capital.

AIG rose 1.5 percent amid news that the board is mulling an emergency meeting this week to determine the fate of CEO Martin Sullivanas the world's largest insurer grapples with fallout from the subprime mortgage mess.

Traders seemed to shrug off a report that consumer sentiment fell to a 28-year low and breathed a sigh of relief after a report on consumer prices showed inflation outside of food and energy remained tame last month.

Oilfell nearly $2 a barrel to settle at $134.86 a barrel as a report that Saudi Arabia was considering increasing output and a stronger dollar combined to pressure the oil futures complex.

For the week, oil dropped 2.7 percent. Agricultural commodities such as corn, soy and wheat shot up 10 percent in the wake of the Midwest floods.

The dollar got a boost from the inflation report, posting its best week in three yearsagainst the euro -- and best in four years against the yen -- ahead of this weekend's meeting of G-8 finance ministers.

As for the housing market, foreclosure filings jumped 48 percent in May from a year earlier, according to data firm RealtyTrac. Yet home builders were mostly higher, led by Toll Brothers .

Lots of merger news buzzed around the market this week.

The latest is that Pfizer may bid for Ranbaxy Laboratories, an Indian generic-drug maker, countering a $4.6-billion bid from Japan's Daiichi Sankyo, the Business Standard newspaper reported. Pfizer shares rose 1.5 percent.

This Bud may be for you, but it's not yet clear who you is.

News broke late Thursday that Anheuser-Busch is in preliminary talks with Mexico's Grupo Modelo about a potential deal that could thwart Belgian InBev's unsolicited takeover bid for the brewer. Bud shares slipped 0.5 percent.

Finally, a concrete development on the Yahoo front -- Google announced late Thursday a non-exclusive advertising-services agreement with Yahoo. (Hey, at least it was something.) That news came just hours after Microsoft walked away from talks, abandoning its bid for Yahoo. An important antitrust voice in Washington said he would "closely examine" the Google deal.

Yahoo shed 0.2 percent Friday, while Microsoft gained 3 percent and Google advanced 3.4 percent.

For those of you keeping score at home, that was four merger stories kicking around this week. Staples on Tuesday confirmed its plans to buy Dutch office-supply rival Corporate Expressfor $2.6 billion. Staples rose 2.2 percent Friday.

On Tap for Next Week:

MONDAY: Empire State Fed survey; NAHB housing index; Fed's Bernanke, Lacker speak; earnings from Lehman, Adobe
TUESDAY: PPI; housing starts; current account; industrial production; earnings from Best Buy, Goldman Sachs
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications survey; oil inventories; Fed's Yellen speaks; Morgan Stanley, FedEx earnings
THURSDAY: Jobless claims; Philly Fed survey; leading indicators; natural gas inventories; Fed advisory panel meets to discuss credit-card regulation

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