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Upbeat earnings help lift stocks

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By The Associated Press
Friday, March 22, 2013, 6:12 p.m.
 

Strong company earnings boosted stocks on Friday. Investors also got the chance to add to their holdings after declines earlier in the week.

Nike reported a surge in quarterly profit, sending its stock price to a record. Tiffany topped earnings predictions, boosted by demand from customers in Asia.

Investors also were drawn by a pause in the market's big run-up. The Standard & Poor's 500 index logged its second weekly decline of the year, despite Friday's gains.

The damper on stock markets was caused by another worrisome chapter in Europe's debt crisis, and some disappointing corporate news. The Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, a banking haven, is struggling to devise a plan to avoid financial collapse.

Stocks also were weighed down on Thursday by weak sales from Oracle. That news brought down technology stocks.

FedEx ended the week 10 percent lower; it reported a drop in quarterly profit and cut its annual earnings forecast on Wednesday. The company is a gauge of the economy because so many shoppers and businesses use its shipping services.

On Friday, investors took advantage of the market's down week and ramped up their stock buying.

A resilient global economy has encouraged investors to pick up stocks on any dips, said Ron Florance, managing director of investment strategy at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

“We still have an astonishing amount of money sitting on the sidelines,” Florance said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.54 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,512.03 on Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.09 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,556.89. The Nasdaq composite gained 22.40 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,245.

Nike shares hit an all-time high, rising $5.93, or 11 percent, to $59.53 over the company's reported 55 percent spike in quarterly net income.

Tiffany rose $1.32, or 1.9 percent, to $69.23 with its strong fourth-quarter earnings.

For the week, though, the S&P 500 was seven points, or 0.3 percent, lower than it was at the start of trading on Monday.

The index last logged a weekly decline on Feb. 22, falling 0.3 percent, after investors were spooked by the minutes from the Federal Reserve's January policy meeting. The minutes revealed disagreement over how long to keep buying bonds in an effort to boost the economy.

The Dow shed a fraction of a percentage point this week.

A pause in the stock market run-up is now due because gains this year overstate the improvement in the economy, said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

The biggest risk to the market run-up this year is the increasing pressure the Fed faces to end its stimulus program. That could happen if the economy continues to improve and stock markets rise, Sandven said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.93 percent from 1.92 percent.

Among other stocks making big moves Friday;

• Micron Technology rose 97 cents, or 10.7 percent, to $10.05 despite reporting a loss in its fiscal second-quarter after market close on Thursday. The chipmaker said revenue grew 3 percent, to $2.08 billion, better than analysts had expected.

• Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. climbed $1.24, or 25.6 percent, to $6.08 on Friday after the drug developer reported strong data from a mid-stage study of a potential chronic rash treatment.

• Marin Software, a marketing software company, rose $2.26, or 16.1 percent, to $16.26 on its market debut. The San Francisco-based company raised $105 million in its initial public offering.

• AK Steel Holding fell 16 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $3.31, after projecting a larger-than-expected first-quarter loss because a previously expected seasonal increase in demand for steel hasn't materialized.

 

 
 


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