Closing Bell: S&P 500 Sets Another Record, Propelled by Strong Earnings

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APTOPIX Wall Street (Traders Gregory Rowe, left, and Craig Spector work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Oct
Richard Drew/AP

Strong earnings from big U.S. companies drove stocks higher Friday, pushing the S&P 500 to another record.

General Electric, Morgan Stanley and Google all rose after reporting higher earnings than financial analysts were expecting. Google topped $1,000 a share for the first time. Investors were also encouraged by a rebound in Chinese economic growth in the latest quarter.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GPSC) gained 11 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,744, to set a second consecutive daily record. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) also moved higher, gaining 51 points, or 1.3 percent, to end the day at 3,914., while the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added 28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,399.

Google (GOOG) shares rose almost 14 percent to $1,012.13 as investors bet on the Internet company’s continued dominance of the mobile and video advertising businesses, despite aggressive competition from Facebook (FB) and Yahoo (YHOO).

With the gain, Google’s market value has swelled to about $40 billion, surpassing Microsoft (MSFT) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) in capitalization. Google is now No. 3 among U.S. companies, behind only Apple (AAPL) and Exxon Mobil (XOM).

General Electric (GE) gained 3.6 percent to $25.58 despite posting lower quarterly earnings.

It was the best performer on the blue chip Dow index, although declines by Home Depot (HD), down 1.4 percent to $74.65, and UnitedHealth Group (UNH), off 3.8 percent to $68.66, kept the Dow’s gains in check.

GE said its third-quarter profit and revenue fell amid a shrinking finance business and negative effects of foreign currency exchange rates, but Wall Street looked beyond those numbers to GE’s improving profit margins and growing order demand.

Morgan Stanley (MS) shares rose 2.6 percent to $29.68 after the company reported a 50 percent rise in quarterly revenue as higher income from equities sales and trading offset a drop in its fixed-income business.

Investors are awaiting a flood of earnings reports next week, including McDonald’s (MCD) on Monday, Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT) on Wednesday and Ford Motor (F) on Thursday.

In commodities trading, benchmark crude for November delivery edged up 14 cents to $100.81, while gold slid $8.30, or 0.6 percent, to $1,314.40.

More Stocks in the News:

  • Amazon (AMZN) reached a new all-time high of $325.64 a share after a UBS analyst raised the online retailer’s rating and price target, saying it has a chance to speed up revenue growth heading into the holiday season. The stock ended the day up 5.9 percent to $329.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) jumped 16.3 percent to $510.58., the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The company reported that its third-quarter earnings rose 15 percent on higher traffic to its 1,500 restaurants.
  • Acacia Research (ACTG) skidded 21 percent to $15.50 — its lowest level in three years — after the company’s third-quarter results fell short of Wall Street forecasts.
  • People’s United Financial (PBCT) fell 4.7 percent to $14.37 after the regional banking company’s third-quarter performance missed analyst expectations.

What to Watch Monday:

  • The National Association of Realtors reports existing home sales for September at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

These major companies are scheduled to release corporate quarterly earnings statements:

  • Discover Financial (DFS)
  • Halliburton (HAL)
  • Hasbro (HAS)
  • Gannett Co. (GCI)
  • McDonald’s (MCD)
  • Manpower (MAN)
  • Netflix (NFLX)
  • SAP (SAP)
  • Texas Instrument (TXN)

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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