Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Mixed


Stocks ended mixed on Friday as oil prices rose. Among stocks in the Dow average, gains in Coca-Cola (KO) and IBM (IBM) on upbeat analyst comments were tempered by a drop in Merck (MRK) in late trading after a jury ruled it was negligent in death of a man who took Vioxx.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.3 points, or 0.04%, to 10,559.23. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 0.69 point, or 0.06%, to 1,219.71. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.52 point, or 0.02%, moving to 2,135.56.

Oil prices were up sharply Friday, following news of a missile in Jordan that narrowly missed a U.S. navy ship, and a possible supply disruption in Ecuador. Crude futures jumped $2.08 to $65.35 a barrel.

There were no major economic announcements planned for Friday.

Next week's economic calendar is on the light side again. Existing home sales will be released Tuesday, followed by new home sales and durable goods orders on Wednesday.

The earnings calendar is also sparce, and includes companies such as H.J. Heinz (HNZ), Intuit (INTU), and Dollar General (DG).

Among stocks moving Friday, Merck shares fell after a Texas jury awards total damages of $253 million in the case of the death of a man who took its painkiller Vioxx. Merck says it will appeal the verdict on its belief the plaintiff did not meet the standard set by Texas law to prove Vioxx caused the man's death.

Coca-Cola shares were higher, after UBS Financial upgraded the stock from neutral to buy.

IBM (IBM) shares also benefited from positive analyst comments, after Prudential said it believes strong back half fundamentals coupled with the tech giant's current valuation point toward a compelling buying opportunity.

After weak earnings reports from two clothing retailers on Thursday, Gap (GPS) reported its second-quarter earnings. The company reported earnings of 30 cents per share, vs. 21 cents during the same period a year ago, despite a 3% drop in same-store sales. Gap also cut its fiscal year 2006 EPS guidance to $1.30-$1.34.

Aeropostale (ARO) also reported earnings. The retailer posted 13 cents per share for the company's second quarter, vs. 19 cents per share during the same period a year ago. The company raised its guidances for the rest of the year, saying it expected same-store sales increases in the low single-digit percentage range.

Treasury Market

With no economic news on tap for today, Treasury yields remained fairly steady. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note traded at 4.21%.

World Markets

European stock markets finished higher on Friday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index rose 43.3 points, or 0.82%, to 5,312.6.

Germany's DAX index went up 78.64 points, or 1.62%, to 4,929.91.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 57.83 points, or 1.31%, moving to 4,487.9.

Asian markets finished lower Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 15.64 points, or 0.13%, to 12,291.73.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index saw another sharp drop, finishing down 109.48 points, or 0.72%, to 15,038.61.


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