Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Slightly Higher


Stocks posted small gains Friday, following three straight days of losses, in the wake of the firmer than expected payrolls report. The rebound in energy prices and security warning in New York City late Thursday dampened investor enthusiasm somewhat into the weekend, says Action Economics.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.21 points, or 0.05%, to 10,292.31. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 4.41 points, or 0.37%, to 1,195.9. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index added 6.27 points, or 0.3%, to 2,090.35.

November West Texas Intemediate crude oil ended up 44 cents at $61.80 a barrel in electronic trading. Trading conditions were light but choppy ahead of the long U.S. weekend, and sources say the market will continue to look at the refinery situation in the U.S. in the coming sessions to determine whether supplies of refined products will be adequate into the end of the year, says Action Economics.

On Monday, the stock market will be open, but the bond and commodities markets will be closed for Columbus Day.

Third-quarter earnings season starts next week. Kicking off the earnings calendar on Monday will be Alcoa (AA), followed by Apple Computer (AAPL) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) on Tuesday, and many others.

On the economic front, the bulk of the reports will come at the end of the week. The trade report will be released Thursday, followed by a full slate Friday that includes the consumer price index, retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilization, and University of Michigan consumer sentiment.

Friday's employment report showed the number of jobs fell much less than economists predicted. U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell 35,000 in September, after rising 211,000 in August (revised up from 169,000; and July's 242,000 was revised to 277,000).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggested the full impact of the hurricanes wasn't picked up in their survey (Rita effect was negligible). However, some economists think that the upward revisions for August and July painted a much more bullish view of the economy than expected, says Action Economics.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.1% from 4.9% in August. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% after a 0.1% increase in August. Average hours were steady at 33.7.

Among sectors on the move Friday, energy stocks rose as crude and gas prices rebounded. Biotechs found some buyers amid worries about the avian flu.

In company news, auto parts maker Delphi (DPH) has requested huge concessions from the UAW to avoid bankruptcy.

Wyeth (WYE) sees third-quarter pro forma earnings per share in the mid- to upper 70 cents area, above the current mean estimate of 72 cents. It reaffirmed $2.80-$2.90 2005 pro forma EPS guidance, but says if current trends continue, it's more likely to reach or exceed the upper end of it.

UTStarcom (UTSI) cut $660-$680 million third-quarter revenue guidance to $620-$640 million. It also lowered 15%-18% gross margin forecast to 9%-11%. The company sees potential asset impairment charges. And it received notice of formal SEC inquiry.

Treasury Market

Treasury yields vaulted higher initially only to be quickly embraced by profit-taking ahead of the long weekend, says Action Economics. In the face of "credible risk" of a terror plot on New York City subways and "suspicious packages" in Penn Station, the bond market went back in to safety mode, says Action Economics. The benchmark 10-year note yield was flat at 4.36%.

The bond market will be closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

World Markets

European stock markets finished lower on Friday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 10.1 points, or 0.19%, at 5,362.3.

Germany's DAX index fell 9.5 points, or 0.19%, to 5,007.77. In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 8.11 points, or 0.18%, to 4,528.79.

Asian markets finished mixed on Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 131.77 points, or 0.99%, to 13,227.74. Another day of weakness in the U.S. weighed on sentiment, and profit taking continued to keep pressure on the market, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged up 8.49 points, or 0.06%, to 14,847.79. Gains in large-cap plays China Mobile and New World Development bolstered the Hang Seng index, offsetting losses in CNOOC and HSBC Holdings, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.


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