Friday, Aug 17, 2012
--Stocks tread higher; overseas also gains
--Europe markets up on back of Germany's Merkel's comments on maintaining euro
--Preliminary August consumer sentiment, July leading indicators on tap
By Tomi Kilgore and Matt Jarzemsky
NEW YORK--U.S. stocks opened slightly higher, with major benchmarks closing in on the year's highs, ahead of a reading on American's feelings about the current economic situation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to rise to 13254 shortly after the opening bell, extending a rally Thursday's rally. Gains since early June have elevated the blue-chip benchmark to near its May 1 closing high for the year, of 13279.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose one point, or 0.1%, to 1416, three points off its 2012 high. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged advanced four points, or 0.1%, to 3066.
A preliminary reading of the Reuters/Univ. of Michigan consumer sentiment index for August is due out at 9:55 a.m. EDT. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires is for a slight decline to 72 from a final July reading of 72.3.
At 10 a.m., the Conference Board's index of leading indicators for July is seen rising 0.2% on the month after declining 0.3% in June.
In corporate news, shares of Facebook edged up 0.7%. The stock dropped 6.3% to close below $20 for the first time after the expiration of some lock-up agreements made more shares available for sale.
European markets traded broadly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.3%, as investors were encouraged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments on Thursday that Germany was committed to maintaining the euro.
Ms. Merkel's comments overshadowed data showing that bad debts held by Spanish banks rose in June to the highest level on record. Spain's IBEX-35 stock index rallied 2.1%.
Asian markets were also mostly higher, with Japan's Nikkei Stock Average gaining 0.8% to close at the highest level in over three months. China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1%.
Crude-oil futures slipped 0.1% to $95.65 a barrel, after settling the previous session at a three-month high, while gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,618.10 an ounce. The dollar gained ground against both the euro and the yen.
In other corporate news, Gap gained 3.9% after the apparel retailer reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that were above the company's previously provided expected range and raised its full-year outlook.
Also in the retail sector, Ann jumped 18% after the women's apparel seller's fiscal second-quarter earnings were well above analyst estimates as provided by FactSet, and its full-year outlook came in slightly above current projections.
Foot Locker rose 2.5% after the athletic-shoe retailer's fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue beat estimates, with gross margin increasing and merchandise inventory declining.
Elsewhere, Marvell Technology slumped 12% after the semiconductor maker's fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue fell short of analyst estimates, citing the slowdown in the macroeconomic environment.
Write to Matt Jarzemsky at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 17, 2012 09:59 ET (13:59 GMT)