Dow, S&P take aim at new records

Index tops 13,900 for first time ever, while S&P 500 climbs to a session high, not seen in over 7 years.

By David Ellis, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- The Dow and S&P 500 were poised to finish in record territory for the second straight session Friday, as Wall Street cheered General Electric's quarterly earnings and overlooked some mixed economic news and higher oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average (up 54.46 to 13,916.19, Charts) rose nearly 0.4 percent with about an hour remaining in the session, climbing above 13,900 for the first time ever.


The broader S&P 500 (up 5.65 to 1,553.35, Charts) also climbed about 0.4 percent higher, reaching a new session high, eclipsing the previous record set in March of 2000.

The tech-laden Nasdaq (up 2.49 to 2,704.22, Charts) gained about 0.1 percent.

"There was no real economic news to knock us out of the box today," said Stephen Carl, principal and head of equity trading at The Williams Capital Group.

Stocks soared Thursday, triggered by takeover activity and chain store sales, sending the Dow up 284 points higher, above 13,800 for the first time ever. The S&P 500 also finished at a record high.

But the rally continued as investors embraced in-line earnings from Dow bellwether General Electric (up $0.73 to $39.73, Charts, Fortune 500) and its decision to up its stock buyback program, sending its shares up 2 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

Fellow Dow component Alcoa (up $2.04 to $47.33, Charts, Fortune 500) climbed over 4 percent, just a day after Rio Tinto (down $13.71 to $304.00, Charts) thwarted the aluminum producer's bid for Alcan (down $0.83 to $97.62, Charts), on speculation that it may too become a takeover target.

Among individual issues, 20 of the Dow 30 components were higher in Friday afternoon trade.

Wall Street did receive some mixed economic news Friday, including a weaker-than-expected retail sales reading. The Commerce Department said sales fell 0.9 percent during the month of June, versus forecasts for no change - the weakest reading in nearly two years.

The University of Michigan, however, reported a jump in its July consumer confidence reading to 92.4, exceeding forecasts.

Investors appeared unfazed however by higher oil prices. U.S. light crude for August delivery jumped $1.35 to $73.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In corporate news, battery and razor maker Energizer Holdings (up $1.10 to $107.83, Charts) agreed to buy Playtex, which makes sun-screen, feminine care and infant care products, for about $1.2 billion. Playtex (up $2.44 to $17.96, Charts) shares soared nearly 16 percent on the news.

A Dutch Supreme Court ruled Friday that ABN Amro (up $2.15 to $50.74, Charts) can go ahead with its $21 billion sale of U.S. subsidiary LaSalle Bank to Bank of America (up $0.19 to $49.72, Charts, Fortune 500), which could clear the way for the rest of ABN to be sold to Barclays (up $0.25 to $59.20, Charts) for $88 billion.

Shares of Dow component Radio Shack (down $1.93 to $30.94, Charts, Fortune 500) shares slipped over 6 percent Friday after Banc of America Securities lowered its rating of the electronics retailer to a "sell" rating from "neutral," on doubts about the company's turnaround efforts.

Treasury prices edged higher, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 5.11 percent from 5.13 percent late Thursday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The dollar edged lower against the the euro but fell versus the yen.

COMEX gold for August fell $1 to $667.30 an ounce.

Market breadth was mixed. Winners edged out losers on the New York Stock Exchange on volume of 971 million shares. Decliners barely beat gainers by on the Nasdaq on volume of 1.32 billion shares. Top of page