Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Higher


Stocks finished higher Friday in low volume ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend. A surge in oil prices boosted energy stocks but did not weigh on the broader market, according to Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 28.47 points, or 0.28%, to 10,303.44. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index added 3.13 points, or 0.26%, to 1,194.46. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite finished up 0.41 of a point, or 0.02%, to 2,057.37.

In the energy markets Friday, August crude oil settled up $2.25 to $58.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Action Economics said that pre-holiday short-covering drove prices higher.

Looking ahead to next week, the markets will be closed Monday for the Independence Day holiday.

The week's most closely watched economic report will be the employment report due out on Friday. Economists are expecting June's non-farm payrolls to rise by about 190,000, after growing by a disappointing 78,000 in May, according to Action Economics.

Other reports include May factory orders on Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing survey on Wednesday, and weekly initial jobless claims on Thursday.

Earnings season kicks off on Thursday, with companies such as aluminium producer Alcoa (AA) and consultant Accenture (ACN) reporting the latest quarterly results.

On Friday, the Institute for Supply Management's June survey on manufacturing activity came in at 53.8, beating forecasts and marking the first increase since November. A reading of 50 or above means the manufacturing sector is growing.

The final reading for the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment index for June came in at 96.0, up from the preliminary reading of 94.8, which was the level economists were expecting. The June figure also improves on May's reading of 86.9.

Figures released Friday also showed U.S. construction spending fell 0.9% in May, after a 1.1% drop in April (which was revised from the earlier reading of 0.5%). The figures were weaker than expected.

Automakers reported June sales Friday afternoon. General Motors (GM) reported that its domestic sales rose 41% over last June, thanks to its "Employee Discount for Everyone" incentive program. The boost was led by a 68% jump in truck sales. Ford (F) said that its domestic sales dropped 2.5% in June from a year ago.

There were no major corporate earnings releases on Friday's calendar.

In corporate news Friday, Microsoft (MSFT) said Friday it would pay $775 million to IBM (IBM) to settle an anti-trust lawsuit dating back to the 1990s. Under the deal, Microsoft will also extend $75 million in credit toward the deployment of its software at IBM.

Animation studio Pixar (~

Stun gun maker ~Taser (TASR) said Friday that it was suing USA Today publisher Gannett (GCI) for libelling its weapons.

In deal news, Danaher (DHR), a maker of tools and laboratory instruments, said that it agreed to acquire Germany's Leica Microsystems, which makes cameras and microscopes, from LM Investments for about $550 million.

Treasury Market

Treasuries, which rose Thursday after the Federal Reserve raised its target funds rate by a quarter point to 3.25%, were lower in price Friday on expectations that the Fed will continue raising rates for months to come, according to Standard and Poor's Marketscope. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose to 4.05%.

World Markets

European stock markets closed higher Friday.

London's FTSE 100 index gained 47.8 points, or 0.93%, to 5,161, as the British purchasing managers index rose to 49.6 in June from 47.0 in May. The Hilton group was higher on a Financial Times report that the company might sell 16 hotels in Britain, and liquor Allied Domecq was higher after French spirits group Pernod Ricard won U.S. approval for its acquisition of the British drinks company.

In Germany, the DAX index added 30.79 points, or 0.67%, to 4617.07, as the German purchasing managers' index rose to 49.8 in June from 49.4 in May. Altana was lower after the company said it and Pfizer ended cooperation on developing a smoker's lung drug, and Internet gambling group Fluxx was off after the company said one of its board members is under investigation for unauthorized betting.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index rose 40.27 points, or 0.95%, to 4,269.62, as the French purchasing managers' index rose to 49.9 in June from 48.8 in May. Champagne maker Taittinger was higher on a report that family members will decide within a month whether to sell their controlling stake in the company.

Asian markets finished higher Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei index gained 46.12 points, or 0.40%, to 11,630.13, as the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan business confidence survey rose to 18 from 14 in March, which was stronger than expected.

In Hong Kong, the stock markets were closed for SAR Establishment day.


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