Sun, Apr 29, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Apple, Amazon drive US stocks past dull GDP data

DROP-RESISTANT:US data showing slowing GDP growth in the first quarter and concern about Chinese economic growth did not dampen technology stocks’ performances

AFP, NEW YORK

Tech giants Apple and Amazon proved their mettle to doubting investors once again, leading US stocks higher in the week to Friday as the markets showed they had not yet run out of steam.

The world’s biggest company, market value-wise, and the Internet’s biggest retailer, both showed up analysts with forecast-busting results that gave the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 firm boosts.

They also helped distract from other possible sources of investor worry — a somewhat glum US growth report for the first quarter, US Federal Reserve inaction on hopes for more stimulus, new worries in Europe and some concern about Chinese growth.

Friday brought a lower-than-forecast estimate for first-quarter US growth, of only 2.2 percent, down from 3 percent in the final quarter of last year.

However, even that failed to dull the markets, which turned in gains for the day.

US markets scored a firm performance for the week, with earnings from a number of firms beating forecasts and cheering the investors.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.53 percent to end at 13,228.31 and the S&P gained 1.8 percent to 1,403.36.

The NASDAQ though picked up 2.29 percent, helped mainly by Apple’s 5.2 percent gain for the week and Amazon’s 19.4 percent run.

Also helping the markets were blue-chip Boeing’s earnings, which delivered a 5.1 percent boost to the aircraft maker’s shares for the period.

“The reporting period has been much better than expected, although admittedly from a lower bar — 83 percent of companies have beaten expectations so far, which is an all-time record high,” analysts at Charles Schwab & Co said. “But market reactions to good reports have been more muted relative to the punishments doled out to those that disappointed.”

Among the disappointments were Caterpillar, which lost 2.9 percent for the week; Procter & Gamble, down 4.6 percent; and United Continental, down 3.2 percent.

Even so, the markets did not appear to want to fall, Bryan Sapp of Schaeffer’s Investment Research said.

“The one certainty remains that this market is made of Teflon. Seemingly no matter what happens, the bears just can’t manage to take the reins and drive us lower, despite abysmal economic data and numerous macroeconomic fears,” he said.

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