Gains were broad, with the Nasdaq closing at its highest level since
2000 and nine of the 10 major S&P 500 sector indexes rising on the
day. The only declining sector was telecom <.SPLRCL>, which is
viewed as a defensive play. Energy <.SPNY>, which is closely tied to
the pace of economic growth, was the day's biggest advancer, up 1.5
U.S. export prices rose 0.2 percent in January, the third straight
monthly increase in a potentially positive sign for global economic
demand and the outlook for American manufacturers.
In the latest data point affected by harsh winter weather, factory
production fell 0.8 percent in January, the biggest drop in more
than 4-1/2 years. Investors have been willing to forgive soft data
of late, attributing weak results to bad weather as opposed to a
"While weather is often used as an excuse to get a more favorable
slant on things, half the country has felt a real impact, which is
enough that equity markets can look at the data and not worry about
it," said Jeff Morris, head of U.S. equities at Standard Life
Investments in Boston.
Despite difficult weather, the preliminary reading of the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan overall index of consumer sentiment
stood at 81.2 in February, unchanged from the final January reading.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 126.80 points, or 0.79
percent, to end at 16,154.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX>
gained 8.80 points, or 0.48 percent, to finish at 1,838.63. The
Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 3.35 points, or 0.08 percent,
to close at 4,244.03.
The three major U.S. stock indexes scored their biggest weekly
percentage gains of 2014: The Dow and the S&P 500 each rose 2.3
percent, while the Nasdaq climbed 2.9 percent. This is the second
straight week of gains for all three. The benchmark S&P 500 now
stands just 0.5 percent away from its all-time closing high of
1,848.38 set on January 15.
With the market within striking distance of record highs, investors
have been looking for evidence that the market's valuation is
"The market isn't particularly expensive, but neither does it strike
me as being especially cheap," said Morris, who helps oversee $292
billion in assets. "It will be a tough slog for the market to move
meaningfully higher from here."
Friday's advance preceded a long holiday weekend for Wall Street.
The U.S. stock market will be closed on Monday for Presidents Day.
Men's clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc <JOSB.O> said it
would buy outdoor wear specialist Eddie Bauer for $825 million from
private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, spurning any merger
considerations with rival Men's Wearhouse Inc <MW.N>. Jos. A. Bank
shares rose 0.4 percent to $55.12 while Men's Wearhouse stock
slumped 5.3 percent to $44.07.
[to top of second column]
Insurer American International Group <AIG.N> on Thursday raised its
dividend and announced more share buybacks as its fourth-quarter
earnings beat expectations. AIG's stock fell 1.2 percent to $48.98.
Weight Watchers International Inc <WTW.N> plunged 28 percent to
$22.10 after it forecast a full-year adjusted profit far slimmer
Cliffs Natural Resources <CLF.N> rose 5.8 percent to $23.16 as the
best performer in the S&P 500. Much better-than-expected earnings
were helped by a drop in costs and higher iron ore prices.
GNC Holdings Inc <GNC.N> tumbled 14.6 percent to $44.72. The health
supplements retailer posted weaker-than-expected quarterly results.
VF Corp <VFC.N> declined 5.1 percent to $56.85 after the apparel
company reported fourth-quarter earnings and issued its 2014
With 398 S&P 500 companies having posted results so far, 66.3
percent have reported earnings that beat expectations, above the
historical average of 63 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
More than 64 percent have topped estimates on revenue, above the
long-term average of 61 percent.
LCA-Vision Inc <LCAV.O> jumped 28 percent to $5.44 after the laser
vision correction services company agreed to be acquired by skin
health company PhotoMedex Inc <PHMD.O> for about $106 million.
PhotoMedex rose 1.3 percent to $14.
Advancers outnumbered decliners by a ratio of 2 to 1 on the New York
Stock Exchange, while on the Nasdaq, nearly seven stocks rose for
every six that fell.
About 5.1 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to
BATS exchange data.
(Editing by Nick Zieminski and Jan
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.