Friday Look Ahead: All eyes on MSFT, Bernanke

Tail winds from Thursday's rally and some after hours earnings could help stocks Friday.

But ahead of the opening bell, there are some key events that could affect trading. Microsoftreports its earnings and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the Boston Fed's annual conference. Bernanke starts speaking on financial regulation and supervision at 8:30 a.m. and takes questions after his speech. Existing home sales for September, released at 10 a.m., will also be important.

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange.
Photo: Oliver Quillia for
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange.

Stocks Thursday started off mixed before staging a mid-afternoon rally that took the Dow back above 10,000. The Dow finished at 10,008, a 1.3 percent gain. The S&P 500 rose 11, or 1 percent to 1092.

The dollar was mixed against major currencies, and the dollar index was slightly firmer. But much of the dollar's gains evaporated as stocks rose. The euro continued to dance around the psychologically important $1.50 level.

Oil gave up some of its gains, with NYMEX crude finishing at $80.63, off 0.8 percent. Metals and other commodities though mostly traded higher.

Thursday's market was also driven by better earnings reports from major companies and several Dow components - McDonald's, 3M, AT&Tand Merck -- among them. After the closing bell, shares in online retailer jumped sharply after the company reported a 68 percent increase in profits to $199 million, or $0.45 per share, on sales of $5.45 billion, well above estimates.

American Express, also reporting after the bell, saw its shares rise on stronger-than-expected profits. Its net fell though, coming in at $640 million or $0.53 per share, from $815 million, or $0.70 per share last year.

Other companies reporting earnings Friday include Schlumberger, Honeywell, Whirlpool, Fortune Brands and Ingersoll-Rand.

In addition to Bernanke's speech, Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn speaks at the Boston Fed conference at 11:30 a.m.

Big Auctions Next Week

Treasurys lost some steam Thursday as stocks moved higher. The market also focused on the Treasury's announcement of record new issuance at next week's auction of 2-, 5- and 7-year notes. A total $123 billion will be auctioned next week, topping the previous record of $115 billion in July.

"It was a pretty big increase in supply, and a little counterintuitive that the big supply issues are trading well on the curve, on the day," Cantor Fitzgerald's Brian Edmonds said.

Dollar Bottoming?

Market guru Laszlo Birinyi appeared on "Squawk on the Street" Thursday and said the dollar at $1.50 per euro may be about the bottom for now.

"If you look at the ETFs that trade against foreign exchange, these things are starting to show a little bit of relative strength," he said. Birinyi also said the quickness and aggressiveness of the dollar's move has been "throwing the market for a loop."

But he did say he thinks the move against the euro is about over for now. "If only for technical reasons, this is going to be about it," he said.

Birinyi also said he thought oil, moving higher as the dollar weakens, is getting overpriced. He said he has sold some oil ETFs and cut back on energy stocks.

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