The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

March 21, 2014

US stock market heads for a solid weekly gain

NEW YORK —  The stock market looked ready to finish off a turbulent week with solid gains Friday. Investors brushed aside concerns about higher interest rates and trouble with Russia. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was on track to close at an all-time high.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,881 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. If that gain holds through the close of trading, it would mark a record high for the index.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 105 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,435. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 4,319.

COMPARE, CONTRAST: It might sound surprising that the stock market is trading at an all-time high with all the uncertainty surrounding China's slowing growth and simmering tensions between Russia and the West. But these concerns also highlight the relative health of the U.S. economy and stock market, said Dan Veru, chief investment officer of Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, N.J.

"In a perverse way, these geopolitical issues drive home the fact that the U.S. has been overlooked. The U.S. was the first major economy to go into recession, and it's the first major country coming out of recession right now."

COMING BACK: A week ago, the S&P 500 index turned in a 1.9 percent weekly loss, its worst slump in nearly two months. This week looks entirely different, with the S&P 500 on track to gain 2.1 percent, as concerns have eased over China's slower economic growth.

The only stumble came Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve said it could start raising short-term interest rates as soon as next year. Traders drove down prices for gold, government bonds and stocks.

GOLDEN GATE'S TOUCH: News that Golden Gate Capital has acquired a stake in Ann Inc. sent the retailer's stock soaring $5.37, or 14 percent, to $42.60. The private equity firm disclosed the 9.5 percent stake in the parent company of Ann Taylor and LOFT late Thursday.

SWOOSH: Nike fell after warning that a stronger U.S. dollar will dampen its results this quarter. Strong demand for its shoes and apparel ahead of the World Cup in June helped its beat expectations in the previous quarter, the company said late Thursday. Nike, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, lost $2.47, or 3 percent, to $76.80.

BOOTED: Symantec sank $2.63, or 13 percent, to $18.27. The maker of security software abruptly fired its CEO late Thursday. It was the second time in less than two years that the company has dismissed its chief executive.

OVERSEAS: European indexes closed slightly higher. Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. Russia's stock market sank 1.3 percent, extending a slump of 10 percent this month.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.7 percent. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds were little changed. The yield on the 10-year government was 2.76 percent. The price of crude oil rose $1.07 to $99.97 a barrel. Gold gained $5 to $1,335.50 an ounce.

 

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