NEW YORK – U.S. stocks gained Friday, with the S&P 500 closing above 1,400 for the first time since April 3 and the Nasdaq Composite rallying 2.3 percent for the week, with gains stoked by strong quarterly earnings.
“The tone is positive; earnings have generally been better than expected and some of the housing data this week is showing improvement,” said Andrew Fitzpatrick, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates Inc.
“It’s a bit of a delayed reaction, but the general sentiment this week has been strong, and the market has reverted back to the weekly sentiment,” he added.
Up 1.5 percent from last Friday’s close, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.69 points, or 0.2 percent, to 13,228.31. It was the index’s second straight weekly gain.
Leading decliners, consumer-product company Procter & Gamble Co. retreated 3.6 percent after cutting its profit forecast for 2012.
The S&P 500 index added 3.38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,403.36, with the index up 1.8 percent for the week.
On a technical level, the S&P has had trouble holding 1,400. “One of these days it is going to move on, so if it can hold there, that’s a positive sign,” said Fitzpatrick of the level breached, but not held, in nearly four weeks.
Among stocks weighing on the S&P 500, Principal Financial Group Inc. fell 5.1 percent a day after the insurer and asset manager reported a quarterly operating profit below Wall Street’s expectations.
The Nasdaq composite rose 18.59 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,069.20, a level that pushed it to a weekly rise of 2.3 percent.
Ford Motor Co. reported higher-than-anticipated profit as robust results in North America helped stem soft international demand.
Of the 275 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings in the first quarter, 72 percent have reported earnings above analyst expectations, says Thomson Reuters. That’s above the long-term average of 62 percent.
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