Wall Street records third week of gains

BALANCING ACT::Soaring tech shares balanced falling energy stocks as US indices set record highs on Friday fueled by corporate earnings and the Fed’s policy stance

Reuters, NEW YORK

Sun, May 12, 2013 - Page 15

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Indexended at record highs on Friday and stocks posted a third consecutive week of gains as a rise in Google Inc and other technology shares offset a slide in energy stocks.

For the week, the Dow rose 1 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent and the NASDAQ Composite Index advanced 1.7 percent.

NASDAQ was boosted by a 1 percent rise in Google’s stock, which also led the S&P 500’s rise.

Indices were flat for much of Friday’s session, but managed a late-day surge. On Thursday, the S&P 500 broke a five-day streak of record closing highs.

On Friday, the Dow was up 35.87 points, or 0.24 percent, at 15,118.49. The S&P 500 Index was up 7.03 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,633.70. The NASDAQ was up 27.41 points, or 0.80 percent, at 3,436.58.

The S&P 500 is up 14.6 percent for the year.

Stocks have risen on the US Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary stance and some encouraging corporate earnings, but analysts said momentum could wane without further positive signs.

“I think it’s going to hard to maintain these levels in the short term,” said Natalie Trunow, chief investment officer of equities at Calvert Investment Management, which has about US$13 billion in assets.

“There are not a lot of positive catalysts to keep it going,” she said, adding that spending cuts by the US government could pressure the economy in the near term.

Oil prices tumbled as the US dollar hit a four-and-a-half-year high against the yen and the Dollar Index was on track for its strongest week against other major currencies in 10 months.

A strong US dollar makes commodities priced in the currency, such as gold and oil, more expensive for foreign investors, pressuring shares of energy and basic materials companies.

ExxonMobil lost 1 percent to US$90.14 and helped drag on the Dow. The S&P energy index dropped 0.5 percent as Brent and US crude oil prices fell.

Priceline.com shares rose 3.9 percent to US$765.41, a day after the online travel firm reported first-quarter profits that beat estimates.

It was among several stronger-than-expected profit reports this week that have helped stocks as the first-quarter earnings period draws to a close.

Shares of electric carmaker Tesla Motors jumped 10.6 percent to US$76.76, adding to Thursday’s gain of 24.4 percent and making it one of the NASDAQ’s top percentage gainers.

Tesla is part of a group of companies with heavy bets against them from investors. Recent upbeat results have triggered a wave of short-covering.

In contrast, shares of Hess Corp slid 2.3 percent to US$69.30. Chief executive John Hess, son of the company’s founder, is being stripped of his duties as chairman as the oil and gas company scrambles to avoid an embarrassing defeat by an activist investor.

Approximately 5.7 billion shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ and the NYSE MKT, below the average daily closing volume of about 6.4 billion this year.

Volume has been weak throughout the market’s rally and this week has seen below-average volume on every day except Thursday when the market fell.

Advancers outpaced decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by nearly nine to five and the NASDAQ by a ratio of about two to one.