Stocks gain in volatile session, end week lower

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks ended higher Friday, with technology shares leading the rebound, amid heavy volume on a day of contract expirations and little economic news.

But most indexes fell over the last full week of trade in 2009.

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The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 21 points, or 0.2%. But the blue-chip index, which reversed course several times throughout the session, ended the week 1.4% lower.

The S&P 500 index (SPX) rose 7 points, or 0.6%, on Friday. The S&P ended 0.4% lower for the week. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) added 32 points, or 1.5% -- and the index gained 1% over the week.

Philip Isherwood, equities strategist at Evolution Strategies in London, said the markets would likely remain "pretty lifeless" ahead of the Christmas holiday.

"Traders are pretty much done with 2009," agreed Charlie Smith, analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.

Smith added that trading would likely remain choppy for the last couple of weeks of 2009, barring major geopolitical news or the passage of new U.S. health care legislation.

"Unless we hear talk of another major country's credit being downgraded, we'll see this choppy flow in and out for the next few weeks," Smith said.

Volatility had been expected Friday because of quadruple witching -- a quarterly event in which stock index futures and options, as well as individual stock futures and options, all expire simultaneously.

Tech shares were the standout, boosted by upbeat earnings reports after the closing bell Thursday from Oracle and Research in Motion.

But volume was high to end the last full week of trade for the year, market breadth was positive. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers four to three on volume of 3.2 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers topped decliners three to two on volume of 2.9 billion shares.

Companies: Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500), the world's No. 2 business software maker, reported earnings per share of 39 cents, beating the forecast of 36 cents. Oracle shares ended up 6.4% Friday.

Research in Motion (RIMM) posted a big jump in profit and boosted its outlook. The Blackberry maker's earnings rose to $1.10 per share, from 69 cents a year earlier. Shares closed 10.3% higher.

But smartphone maker Palm (PALM) reported a wider-than-expected loss of 37 cents per share in its second fiscal quarter.

Nike (NKE, Fortune 500) reported its earnings fell to 76 cents in the second fiscal quarter from 80 cents per share a year earlier.

Pepsi (PEP, Fortune 500) announced late Thursday that it will not advertise in this season's Super Bowl. The beverage giant has advertised the past 23 years, and was among the top four advertisers during last season's game.

Other markets: Stocks in Asia and Europe finished slightly lower. The dollar was lower against the euro and the pound Friday, but higher versus the yen.

Crude oil for January delivery gained 71 cents to settle at $73.36, while gold for February delivery jumped $4.10 to close at $1,111.50.

Bonds were lower, with the benchmark 10-year bond yield rising to 3.52% from 3.48% late Thursday. To top of page

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