Tech news, economic readings stimulate stocks
NEW YORK – Wall Street closed out a bumpy week with a moderate advance Friday as tech stocks charged higher on takeover news and other sectors gained on data that indicated the economy is expanding at a healthy pace. The major indexes managed to post gains for the week.
Oracle Corp.’s bid for BEA Systems Inc. helped prop up technology stocks and gave investors renewed hope that acquisition activity is picking up again after the uncertainty of the summer’s credit crisis. Corporate news also boosted some blue chip names: McDonald’s Corp. posted higher-than-expected sales, and General Motors Corp. said sales in its Latin America, Africa and Middle East region jumped in the third quarter.
Amid the economic data Wall Street mined Friday for signals about the health of the economy, the government reported that retail sales showed a stronger-than-expected gain last month and that wholesale prices jumped in September amid an increase in food and energy costs. Business inventories increased, while consumer sentiment slipped.
“The data seemed to reinforce that the economy is slowing but perhaps not as precipitously as feared. And that may put the Fed on hold in October,” said Derrick Wulf, portfolio manager at Dwight Asset Management Co. He was referring to the next interest-rate decision by Federal Reserve policymakers, who are scheduled to meet Oct. 30-31.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.96, or 0.56 percent, to 14,093.08.
Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7.39, or 0.48 percent, to 1,561.80. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index rose 33.48, or 1.21 percent, to 2,805.68.
The move higher comes a day after a rally fizzled on Wall Street on concerns about price risks and lowered expectations for the Chinese Internet company Baidu.com. Wall Street’s advance on Friday helped lift the major indexes to finish the week in positive territory – the Dow was up 0.19 percent; the S&P 500 rose 0.27 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.91 percent.
Bonds were slightly lower as fixed-income investors held their positions ahead of the weekend. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to the price, was up at 4.68 percent from 4.66 percent late Thursday.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Light, sweet crude rose 61 cents to $83.69 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil futures moved above $84 per barrel to a fresh trading and settled at a record as well amid concerns that supplies won’t meet demand in the fourth quarter.
Economic readings appeared to give a boost to stocks. The Commerce Department report that retail sales rose 0.6 percent in September from August was double the growth economists had been expecting. The report came a day after many national retailers reported seeing sluggish demand in September.
The Labor Department said wholesale prices rose 1.1 percent in September. Excluding often volatile categories of food and energy, wholesale prices edged up by a moderate 0.1 percent.