US stocks cap strong week with Microsoft bid for Yahoo

Still, stocks last week finished what was their worst January since 1990. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 6.1% for the month.

money good 88 (photo credit: )
money good 88
(photo credit: )
SHARES WALL STREET Stocks ended a week of big gains with another sizable advance Friday after investors set aside anxiety over news that the economy lost jobs last month and focused on Microsoft Corp.'s bid for Internet company Yahoo Inc. and a possible rescue plan for the troubled bond insurance sector. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index each rose more than 4 percent for the week, their steepest gains since March 2003. Wall Street was pleased by Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo. T The US Labor Department's worrisome employment report for January said the economy lost 17,000 jobs, marking the first contraction of the labor market in more than four years. The news confounded economists, who were expecting 70,000 new jobs, according to Thomson/IFR. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5% in December, though the move came as the labor pool shrank. The Commerce Department reported that construction spending dropped 1.1% in December - the most in 15 months and twice what analysts expected. Stocks did get some ballast from a report showing a pickup in the nation's manufacturing sector in January. The Institute for Supply Management, a business group, said its index of manufacturing activity rose to 50.7 from 48.4 in December. Wall Street had expected the figure would come in at 47, a reading that would indicate a contraction of the manufacturing sector. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92.83, or 0.73%, to 12,743.19 after climbing more than 200 points Thursday. Broader stock indicators also moved higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 16.87, or 1.22%, to 1,395.42, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 23.50, or 0.98%, to 2,413.36. For the week, the Dow jumped 536.02 points, or 4.4%. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the market measure most closely followed by professional traders, added 4.9% and the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.8%. Still, stocks last week finished what was their worst January since 1990. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 6.1% for the month. In corporate news, Yahoo surged $9.20, or 48%, to $28.38, on word of the buyout offer for $31 per share. Yahoo said it would consider the offer. Microsoft, one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, fell $2.15, or 6.6%, to $30.45. Google Inc. fell $48.40, or 8.6%, to $515.90 after reporting its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue growth slowed at a faster pace than Wall Street expected. Motorola Inc. jumped $1.19, or 10%, to $12.69 after announcing it is considering selling a sale or spinoff its lackluster mobile phone business. EUROPE The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index rose 1.9% to 328.4. The UK's FTSE 100 index gained 2.5% to 6,029.20, while France's CAC-40 index firmed 2.2% to 4978.1. Germany's DAX index advanced 1.7% to 6968.7. British Airways shares lost ground, falling 4.2% to 318 pence, despite posting nine-month results ahead of expectations. Analysts believe the dip in shares reflects concerns that long-haul premium traffic will be hit by the economic slowdown. ASIA Japan's Nikkei lost 0.7% to close at 13,497.20. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.4% to 4,320.8, its lowest close since August. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 2.8% to 1,274.92. The Hang Seng gained 2.9% to close at 24,123.6. The major indices in Australia and India gained more than 3%. Taiwan's benchmark rose 2% with investors betting on the traditional rally after the Lunar New Year break, which starts on Monday there and lasts for six trading sessions. CURRENCY In late New York trading, the dollar rose to $1.4803 per euro from $1.4877 late Thursday. The dollar jumped to $1.9677 per pound from $1.9900, and inched up to 106.47 Japanese yen from 106.43 yen. Once the euro fell below a previous technical resistance level around $1.4920, investors who were betting on more euro strength decided to give up their positions before the weekend, Carl Forcheski, vice president of foreign exchange at Societe Generale in New York, told Dow Jones Newswires. In other New York trading, the dollar fell to 99.38 Canadian cents from 1.0040. COMMODITIES After a sharp overnight rise, gold for April delivery fell $14.50 to settle at $913.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil below $90 a barrel after the US government reported weak jobs data for January. Light, sweet crude for March delivery lost $2.79 to settle at $88.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. March heating oil futures lost 8.02 cents to $2.4489 a gallon, while March gasoline futures dropped 7.38 cents to $2.2834 a gallon.