US stocks mostly up

The market ended its second straight winning week with a moderate advance Friday, overcoming concerns about consumer confidence and inflation.

stock market good 88 (photo credit: )
stock market good 88
(photo credit: )
SHARES WALL STREET The market ended its second straight winning week with a moderate advance Friday, overcoming concerns about consumer confidence and inflation. After slumping early in the session in response to weak US consumer confidence and a spike in oil prices, investors seemed to turn their attention to broader signs, including the week's generally satisfactory earnings reports, that suggested that government efforts to steady the economy appear to be working. That shift in focus sent stocks up late in the day. Although the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in with its lowest reading since the early 1980s, Tom Lydon, president of Global Trends Investments in Newport Beach, California, said companies' first-quarter reports convinced investors that "overall, things aren't all that bad." The consumer sentiment index fell to 62.6 for April from 69.5 a month earlier, reflecting Americans' concern about rising energy and food prices. While consumer spending represents about 70 percent of the economy, UBS equities strategist David Bianco said "it's the wrong thing to be looking at to gauge the prospects" for the Standard & Poor's 500 companies. "Business activity is strong in the US and especially globally," he said. "That's far more important." The Dow Jones industrial average gained 42.91, or 0.33%, to 12,891.86, after falling more than 100 points earlier in the session. The Dow closed the week with a gain of less than 1%. Broader stock indicators were mixed on the day. The S&P 500 index gained 9.02, or 0.65%, to 1,397.84, and rose 2.1% for the week. The Nasdaq composite index, depressed by disappointment with a Microsoft Corp. forecast, fell 5.99, or 0.25%, to 2,422.93, after dropping as much as 1.6% during the session. Microsoft fell $1.97, or 6.2%, to $29.83, after its first-quarter report. The tech leader said after the closing bell Thursday that worldwide sales next year should offset weakness in the US economy. EUROPE Share prices on the London Stock Exchange closed higher, with the FTSE 100-share index up 40.7 points, or 0.67%, at 6,091.40. ASIA Markets were mostly lower, with the benchmark indices in Hong Kong and Shanghai falling for the first time in five sessions as investors booked profits on a strong week. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.7% to 3,557.80, pulling back after posting a 9.3% surge in the previous session - its largest percentage rise in more than six years. Hong Kong's Hang Seng followed Shanghai's lead, dropping 0.6% to 25,516.8. But stocks jumped on Asia's largest bourse in Tokyo, led by gains in auto and financial shares as concerns over the global credit crunch eased. The Nikkei 225 index rose 2.4% to 13,863.50. CURRENCY The dollar was mixed against major currencies Friday after a consumer sentiment reading fell to its lowest level in more than 25 years. The pound rose to $1.9826 in late New York trading from $1.9755, while the Japanese currency was unchanged at 105.26 yen. The euro slid to $1.5635, down from $1.5686 Thursday. The 15-nation currency has slid since it reached the latest in a string of records on Tuesday, breaking through the $1.60 mark for the first time and rising as high as $1.6018. On Thursday, the euro lost more than two cents after a downbeat German business confidence survey and an unexpected drop in American claims for jobless benefits. The dollar has been weighed down recently by a combination of gloomy US economic data and high European inflation. That has fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates yet again while the European Central Bank leaves rates unchanged - or even raises them, a possibility deflated by Thursday's German business confidence survey. In other trading Friday, the dollar rose to 1.0178 Canadian dollars from 1.0139 Canadian dollars on Thursday. COMMODITIES Oil prices shot up Friday after a ship under contract to the US Defense Department fired warning shots at two boats in the Persian Gulf. Initial reports were that the boats were Iranian, although their origin was later unclear; the news was enough to raise concerns that a conflict between US and Iran could cut oil supplies from the region. Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose to $119.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the news before falling back to settle at $118.52, still up $2.46. Gold for June delivery added 30 cents to settle at $889.70 an ounce on the Nymex, after earlier rising as high as $899.