Stocks stage late advance
Wall Street manages gains after choppy session. Weak existing home sales report disappoints. Corporate earnings in focus, too.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks staged a late-session rally at the end of a turbulent day, influenced by a weak housing market report, a mix of corporate results and the latest for the automakers.
Biotech Amgen (AMGN, Fortune 500) reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and earnings after the close. Amazon.com (AMZN, Fortune 500) reported higher quarterly sales and earnings that topped estimates.
Also Friday, the Commerce Department releases the March durable goods orders report and the Census Bureau releases the March new home sales report.
Stocks are down for the week as investors have retreated after a six-week advance that propelled the S&P 500 nearly 29%. Stocks zigzagged Thursday as investors sorted through the profit reports and economic news.
"The market is trying to determine whether we've come too far, too fast and it's been getting some mixed signals," said Christopher Colarik, portfolio manager at Glendmede.
"Incrementally, we are getting some economic and earnings reports that are less bad, if not good," he said. "But it might be a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of thing, like with the housing data."
Automakers: General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) said in the afternoon that it plans to temporarily shut down 13 of 20 North American plants this summer in order to reduce its inventory. The company has been hit hard by the recession and slowdown in auto demand and has until June 1 to cut its debt and labor costs or face Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Shares fell 4%.
Chrysler is reportedly set to enter Chapter 11 as soon as next week, The New York Times reported Thursday. The Treasury Department is overseeing the process, which will reportedly protect union members' pensions and retiree health care benefits.
Italian carmaker Fiat will complete its acquisition of a 20% stake in the company while it is under bankruptcy protection.
Housing: March existing home sales fell to a 4.57 million unit annual rate from a 4.71 million rate in February, the National Association of Realtors said. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com thought sales would fall to a 4.65 million unit annual rate.
The report countered bets that the housing market is nearing a bottom. Such bets were sparked by February housing market reports that showed smaller-than-expected declines in sales and productions.
Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners topped losers three to two on volume of 1.57 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, decliners topped advancers eight to five on volume of 2.49 billion shares.
Jobs: The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment rose last week to 640,000 from a revised 613,000 the previous week, topping economists' estimates.
Bonds: Treasury prices slipped, raising the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 2.91% from 2.94% Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Lending rates were mixed. The 3-month Libor rate fell to 1.09% from 1.10% Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.com. The overnight Libor rate dipped to 0.20% from 0.21% Wednesday.
Other markets: In global trading, Asian markets ended higher and European markets ended lower.
In currency trading, the dollar fell versus the euro and the yen.
U.S. light crude oil for June delivery settled up 77 cents to $49.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
COMEX gold for June delivery rose $14.10 to settle at $906.60 an ounce.