Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Higher


Major equity indexes finished higher Friday after a late-session rally. Stocks were moving largely with their sectors, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope, in the absence of a broader market trend. Semiconductors were up after Xilinx (XLNX) and Broadcom (BRCM) reported solid earnings. Energy stocks also rose on a series of strong earnings reports. Biotech stocks fell on profit-taking, and Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) both put in weak performances, limiting upside for the Nasdaq.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.41 points, or 0.22%, to 10,651.18. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 6.64 points, or 0.54%, to 1,233.68. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 1.14 points, or 0.05%, to 2,179.74.

There were no major economic reports Friday.

Next week's economic calendar brings reports on existing home sales on Monday, July's consumer confidence figure on Tuesday, and New Home sales on Wednesday.

On the earnings calendar next week, BellSouth (BLS), Avaya (AV), and Cendant (CD) will report on Monday, with Electronic Arts (ERTS), Sun Microsystems (SUNW), and Verizon (VZN) set for Tuesday. Hilton Hotels (HLT) will release results on Wednesday.

On Friday, oil prices settled up $1.52 to $58.65 a barrel. Short-covering appeared to drive prices up, says Action Economics, as storm activity in the Atlantic sparked a buying interest.

Disappointment with outlooks from Microsoft and Google likely raised some concern in the market, but it was not broad-based, notes S&P. After the close on Thursday, both tech heavyweights announced earnings. Google's earnings soared in the second-quarter, up to $342.8 million, or $1.19 a share, vs. 30 cents a share last year. This beat analyst expectations, but the stock fell in pre-market trading, pointing to worries that Google may be overvalued.

Microsoft (MSFT) saw earnings rise 37%, citing strong sales in units ranging from servers to the Xbox video game business. Microsoft saw earnings climb to $3.7 billion, or 34 cents a share, vs. 25 cents a share during the same quarter last year.

Several energy-related companies reported strong earnings, driven by higher oil prices. Halliburton (HAL) reported a profit of $392 million for the second-quarter, or 78 cents a share, vs. a loss of $667 million or $1.52 per share last year. The oilfield services firm cited new government contracts as the major source of revenues.

Schlumberger (SLB), the world's largest oilfield services group, also reported a substantial rise in earnings. The company saw profits rise 36% to $482.2 million, or 80 cents a share, beating analyst expectations.

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) saw earnings double in the second-quarter to $1.54 billion, or $3.78 per share, compared with $581 million last year.

Xilinx saw its first quarter profit fall from a year ago, to 21 cents a share in the first quarter, vs. 26 cents a share last year. Shares traded higher, however, as this met analyst estimates and the company gave an upbeat forecast for the second quarter. Broadcom, another chipmaker, also net income slip, to 4 cents a share vs. 18 cents last year, but beat street expectations.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB) announced it plans to eliminate 6,000 jobs and sell 20 plants, in order to support its health-care and diaper busineses. The paper company saw a drop in second-quarter profit of 7%, while sales rose 8.1% to $3.99 billion, ahead of analyst expectations.

Maytag (MYG) fell short of market expectations, posting earnings of $3.5 million, or 4 cents a share, vs. last year's second-quarter loss of $41 million. Sales rose 6.7% to $1.23 billion.

b>Treasury Market

Treasury yields finished lower after London police shot and killed a suspected terrorist, and the surge related to the Chinese yuan revaluation dissipated. Trading was choppy, says Action Economics, as traders tried to decipher the impact of increased transportation security in New York and London. The 10-year note yield was lower at 4.22%.

World Markets

European stock markets finished mixed Friday. London's FTSE 100 index closed up 20.20 points, or 0.39%, to 5,241.80, shaking off the recent terror news in the city.

Germany's DAX index rose 7.03 points, or 0.15%, to 4,836.90.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index fell 10.14 points, or 0.23%, to 4,415.52.

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei index closed down 91.68, or 0.78%, at 11,695.05.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 166.32 points, or 1.14%, moving to 14,786.46.


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