New York stocks end volatile day with comeback

New York stocks ended a volatile week with a late-day comeback Friday after investors set aside some concerns about the banking sector and the health of the overall economy.

By TIM PARADIS, AP
November 18, 2007 09:59

 
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SHARES Wall Street New York stocks ended a volatile week with a late-day comeback Friday after investors set aside some concerns about the banking sector and the health of the overall economy. Stocks began Friday's trading having fallen in six of the prior seven sessions as investors fretted about whether consumers would succumb to higher energy prices, rising mortgage costs and an anemic dollar. Continuing credit turmoil has also stirred concerns about the soundness of corporate balance sheets and profits. A sharp rally Tuesday was largely undone by subsequent pullbacks; on Friday, the market appeared headed to another down day before the major indexes, which had flip-flopped all day, turned higher in the last half-hour. Financial stocks fell, partly due to a Fortune story that raised the possibility Fannie Mae could be masking the true magnitude of credit-related hits to its profits. Company executives defended a change in the way the largest US buyer and backer of home loans calculates losses on home loans. Giving investors further reason for worry, FedEx Corp. lowered its earnings expectations for the fiscal second quarter and full year and Starbucks Corp. slashed its earnings forecast for the fourth quarter after it reported traffic at stores open at least 13 months dropped by 1 percent. But tech stocks saw gains. Investors have at times viewed technology companies as likely to fare better during an economic downturn than some groups such as retailers. Cisco Systems Inc., the world's largest network equipment company, said Friday it plans to repurchase an additional $10 billion in stock and an analyst upgraded Hewlett-Packard Co. Meanwhile, rising oil prices gave a boost to energy names such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips. "You can certainly come up with a list of the top 10 reasons why we should be down," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co. in Boston. He contends the rally indicates the market was oversold. "I think that's being clearly reflected as we rally into what otherwise would be considered negative catalysts." The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.74, or 0.51%, to 13,176.79. Broader stock indicators also recovered. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.59, or 0.52%, to 1,458.74. The Nasdaq composite index rose 18.73, or 0.72%, to 2,637.24. Despite the gains in the major indexes, declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 6 to 5 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 4 billion shares compared with 3.81 billion traded Thursday. The major indexes managed gains for the week, with the Dow rising 1.03% and the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each adding 0.35%. Government bond prices fell as stocks fluctuated. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.15% from 4.14% late Thursday. The dollar slipped against other major currencies, while gold prices rose. The economic news arriving Friday seemed to offer investors little incentive to bid stocks higher. Industrial production in October showed the sharpest decrease in nine months. The Federal Reserve said output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities fell by 0.5% last month - a much weaker showing than had been expected. The reading revealed a big drop in utility output and continued troubles in sectors tied to automobiles and housing. Fannie Mae fell $2.35, or 5.5%, to $40.69 after falling 10% Thursday. Chief Financial Officer Stephen Swad said some of the $670 million in provisions for credit losses on soured home loans that Fannie Mae wrote off in the third quarter likely would be recovered. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.10, or 0.27%, to 769.50. EUROPE Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.08% to 6291.2, Germany's DAX index fell 0.71%, while France's CAC-40 shed 0.61%. ASIA Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.6% to 15,154.6, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 3.95%. CURRENCY The dollar was mostly down Friday after the release of US economic data and increased talk that countries may be shifting away from dollar-based reserves. The dollar edged lower against the 13-nation euro. The currency was worth $1.4659 Friday, down from $1.4612 on Thursday afternoon. The British pound climbed to $2.0515 Friday from $2.0434 Thursday, while the dollar rose to 110.82 Japanese yen from 110.39 yen. After starting higher, the dollar fell after the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve released weak economic reports, while US and foreign government officials voiced concern about the currency. In Washington, the Fed reported that industrial production plunged in October by the largest amount in nine months, reflecting a big drop in utility output and continued troubles in auto and housing-related industries. In other New York trading, the dollar slumped against the Canadian currency to 97.48 Canadian cents from 98.62 cents Thursday. The US dollar was worth 1.1182 Swiss francs Friday, down from 1.1228 Swiss francs. COMMODITIES Oil prices rose above $95 a barrel on Friday, continuing a week of volatile price swings, as traders tried to digest a report on petroleum inventories. The Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report showed a surprising increase in crude supplies, but that was balanced by an unexpectedly large drop in supplies of distillates such as heating oil heading into winter. Reports that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may reject US requests that the group raise production also bolstered prices, analysts said. The December light, sweet crude contract, which expired at the session's close, rose $1.67 to settle at $95.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The January contract settled at $93.84 a barrel, up $1.77. Heating oil futures rose 2.84 cents to $2.5871 a gallon, while gasoline futures gained 3.92 cents to $2.3754 a gallon. Gold prices attempted a rebound after Thursday's sell-off, but the gains didn't hold. The metal has gone through a painful correction this week that has seen prices slide $48, or 6 percent. A combination of a declining dollar and rising oil prices helped send gold prices up nearly $200 from mid-August to $848 last week - the highest since 1980 - and analysts have been warning the metal was due for a round of hefty profit-taking. An ounce of gold fell 30 cents to settle at $787 on the Nymex, while silver futures rose 2.8 cents per ounce to $14.51. Industrial metals finished in a mixed range. Nickel, zinc and lead prices slipped on the London Metal Exchange, while copper, tin and aluminum rose. December copper traded on the Nymex added 8.05 cents to $3.1615 a pound.

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