US stocks close slightly higher, tech jumps

Stocks rallied minutes before the close to end the session just inside positive territory, as investors track gains from a stronger US session.

October 14, 2007 08:20
3 minute read.

SHARES WALL STREET US equities closed out a bumpy week with a moderate advance Friday as tech stocks charged higher on takeover news and other sectors gained on data that indicated the economy is expanding at a healthy pace. The major indexes managed to post gains for the week. Oracle Corp.'s bid for BEA Systems Inc. helped prop up technology stocks, and gave investors renewed hope that acquisition activity is picking up again after the uncertainty of the summer's credit crisis. Amid the economic data Wall Street mined Friday for signals about the health of the economy, the government reported that retail sales showed a stronger-than-expected gain last month and that wholesale prices jumped in September amid an increase in food and energy costs. Business inventories increased, while consumer sentiment slipped. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.96, or 0.56 percent, to 14,093.08. Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.39, or 0.48%, to 1,561.80. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index rose 33.48, or 1.21%, to 2,805.68. For the week, the Dow was up 0.19%; the S&P 500 rose 0.27% and the Nasdaq gained 0.91%. Oracle, the business software maker, confirmed it offered to buy BEA Systems for more than $6.66 billion. Oracle said it sent a letter to the software maker's board offering $17 per share, a 25% premium over Thursday's closing price of $13.62. BEA surged $5.20, or 38%, to $18.82, while Oracle fell 2 cents to $22.44. GM rose $2.65, or 6.6%, to $42.64 after posting a 22% increase in sales in regions such as Latin America. The move comes after shares of the automaker jumped Thursday following a decision by union members to ratify a new contract with the automaker. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 27.07, or 0.19%, at 14,093.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 4.21, or 0.27%, at 1,561.80. The Nasdaq composite index ended up 25.36, or 0.91%, at 2,805.68. EUROPE Stocks rallied minutes before the close to end the session just inside positive territory, as investors track gains from a stronger US session. However, European indexes opened lower and maintained negative trading throughout the day, pressured by the construction and materials sector on worries of a weakening housing market. But oil and gas stocks rallied in late trading, helping to lift European indexes, as oil prices neared all-time highs. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index came back to close up half a percent at 390.63. The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.1% to 6,730.70 and Germany's DAX Index managed a 0.1% higher close at 8,041.26. But France's CAC-40 Index closed down 0.3% at 5,843.95. The struggling UK mortgage provider Northern Rock PLC got a boost from the Virgin Group Ltd., which submitted a nonbinding indication of interest to the bank's board. Shore Capital banks analyst Danny Clarke said it could be a "good fit" and added he expects the group to cooperate with due diligence. Northern Rock shares closed 5.9% higher at 273 pence. ASIA Markets fell after their recent rallies and in the wake of Wall Street's decline overnight. Key indexes in Japan and Hong Kong both dropped after three-day gains. In Tokyo, investors took profits in real estate, bank and exporter shares, sending the Nikkei 225 average down 127.81 points, or 0.73%, to 17,331.17 points. The market had risen 2.3% the previous three days. CURRENCY The dollar traded mixed in late New York trading, regaining ground as investors saw positive September retail sales as a signal of US economic strength. The dollar continued its slide against the Canadian dollar. The American currency bought 97.20 Canadian cents before rising to 97.36 in late New York trading. The dollar bought 97.62 Canadian cents Thursday. The dollar rose against the 13-nation euro, hitting $1.4176 late Friday in New York, from the $1.4217 the euro bought Thursday. The dollar gained slightly on the yen to 117.56 Friday from 117.25. The dollar also fell against the British pound, sliding to $2.0343, compared with $2.0337 Thursday. COMMODITIES December gold fell $2.90 to settle at $753.80 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December silver dipped 8.2 cents to $13.903 an ounce. Oil prices settled at a record high of $83.69, up 61 cents, as the market added to hefty gains a day earlier. Crude hit an all-time trading high of $84.05 a barrel on Friday. Gasoline futures for November ticked up 1.85 cents to settle at $2.0851 a gallon. Heating oil futures fell 0.09 cent to $2.2464 a gallon.

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