Friday, Aug 17, 2012
--Stocks tread higher; overseas markets also gain
--European markets up on back of German Chancellor's comments on maintaining euro
--Early August consumer sentiment reading unexpectedly rises
By Matt Jarzemsky
NEW YORK--Stocks looked to cap their sixth-straight week of gains with a win Friday, after a reading on Americans' feelings about the economy topped economists' expectations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added seven points, or 0.1%, to 13257 in late-afternoon trading, nearing its more-than-four-year closing high of 13279, set on May 1.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose one point, or 0.1%, to 1416, three points off its 2012 closing high. For both the Dow and the S&P 500, the six straight weekly increases would mark the longest rally since January 2011. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up seven points, or 0.2%, to 3070.
Technology shares led the advance Friday. Apple ticked up 1.6%, after posting its highest closing price ever on Thursday. Consumer-discretionary and industrial stocks also rose while health care and utilities lagged behind.
"We seem to be in a little bit of a melt-up, even though it's the dog days of summer. Consider just how far we've come in the last couple of weeks," said John De Clue, chief international strategist at U.S. Bank in Minneapolis.
The Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for early August rose from its end-of-July level, bucking economists' expectations for a decline.
The Conference Board's index of leading indicators for July rose more than expected, but still suggests little improvement in the economy.
"We had some relatively positive economic data pushing the market a little bit higher, but it's kind of a sluggish day in terms of big earnings reports or other things to really move the market either way," said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust, which oversees $9.1 billion in assets.
In corporate news, shares of Facebook fell 4.1% after touching an all-time intraday low of $19.01. The stock closed below $20 for the first time Thursday after a batch of early investors' shares were made available for sale.
European markets traded broadly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.6%, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments on Thursday that Germany was committed to maintaining the euro continued to bolster sentiment.
Markets shrugged off data showing bad debts held by Spanish banks rose in June to the highest level on record. Spain's IBEX-35 stock index rallied 1.9%.
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 rose 0.5% to $96.09 a barrel, after settling the previous session at a three-month high, while gold futures slipped 0.1% to $1,618.30 an ounce. The dollar gained ground against both the euro and the yen.
In other corporate news, J.M. Smucker jumped 5.4% after saying this year's profit will be at the high end of its forecast range. For the latest quarter, the maker of namesake jams, Jif peanut butter and Pillsbury pastries reported better-than-expected sales as volume rose.
Marvell Technology tumbled 14% after the semiconductor maker's fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue fell short of analysts' estimates, citing the slowdown in the macroeconomic environment.
Gap gained 5% 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 22% after the operator of Ann Taylor and Loft stores raised its outlook for the year and reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings.
Foot Locker rose 2.1% after the athletic shoe retailer's fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue beat estimates, with gross margin increasing and merchandise inventory declining.
Write to Matt Jarzemsky at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 17, 2012 15:47 ET (19:47 GMT)