Dow ends week at nearly 3-year high

stock marketClick chart for more market data. By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK(CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks advanced for a third straight session Thursday, with the Dow closing at almost a 3-year high following a slew of strong earnings.

But disappointing readings on regional manufacturing and the labor market kept a lid on the gains, reminding investors that the economy is still fragile.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 52 points, or 0.5%, to end at 12,505.99, its highest level since June 2008. The gains were led by a nearly 4% surge in shares of Travelers (TRV, Fortune 500), while IBM's (IBM, Fortune 500) and Alcoa's (AA, Fortune 500) stocks rose about 2%.

The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 7 points, or 0.5%, with shares of Biogen Idec (BIIB, Fortune 500) and SLM (SLM, Fortune 500) jumping about 15%. Biogen delivered a strong quarterly profit, while SLM, the student loan lender known as Sallie Mae, reinstated its quarterly dividend after four years and authorized a $300 million share repurchase programs.

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) advanced 18 points, or 0.6%. Biogen Idec, F5 Networks (FFIV), Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500) and Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) were among the biggest winners on the tech-heavy index after posting healthy quarterly earnings. (Apple doubles its profit)

For the week, all three major indexes finished higher. The Dow and S&P 500 climbed about 1.3%, while the Nasdaq increased 2%. The stock markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.

Thursday's gains were tempered by reports that showed a sharp slowdown in manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region in April and lower-than-expected jobless claims.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its manufacturing activity index dove to 18.5 from 43.4 the prior month. Economists were expecting the figure to drop to 33.

Even with the dampening effect of those economic reports, analysts say earnings will continue to be the main driver to push stocks higher.

About 70% of the companies in the S&P 500 have been beating Wall Street expectations quarter after quarter recently, noted Matt King, chief investment officer at Bell Investment Advisors.

Positive earnings also spurred a stock rally on Wednesday, with the Dow rising nearly 200 points and the Nasdaq climbing 2%, as Wall Street cheered solid earnings results out of the technology sector.

Companies: Shares of General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) dropped more than 2% Thursday. The Dow component's stock was higher at the start of trading after the company delivered solid first-quarter earnings and raised its quarterly dividend.

GE has been under pressure lately, facing criticism about its 2010 taxes and role in the nuclear crisis following Japan's March 11 earthquake. GE designed all six nuclear reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Shares of Yum Brands (YUM, Fortune 500) climbed more than 4% after the fast food operator posted higher first-quarter earnings on rapid growth in China.

Morgan Stanley's (MS, Fortune 500) stock spiked 1.7% after the bank beat estimates with its first-quarter profit.

World markets: European stocks closed mixed. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1%, but the DAX in Germany rose 0.6% and France's CAC 40 gained 0.4%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1% and Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.8%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.

Oil for June delivery rose 84 cents to settle at $112.29 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery settled at a record $1,503.80 an ounce, after rising to an intraday trading record of $1,509.60.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was unchchanged, and the yield held steady at 3.40%.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.98%3.95%
15 yr fixed3.05%3.05%
5/1 ARM3.32%3.71%
30 yr refi4.05%4.03%
15 yr refi3.12%3.11%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
Nasdaq 4,483.72 30.92 0.69%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 4:48am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 13.78 -0.62 -4.31%
Microsoft Corp 46.13 1.11 2.47%
Apple Inc 105.22 0.39 0.37%
Bank of America Corp... 16.72 0.12 0.72%
Yahoo! Inc 43.50 0.90 2.11%
Data as of Oct 24

Sections

New York headlines took a straight forward and direct approach with NYC's Ebola news. More

The midterm elections are around the corner, and the economy remains a top concern. With unemployment down and inflation low, why do people still feel the economy stinks? More

Shares of Facebook recently topped $80. They've more than quadrupled from their post-IPO lows of two years ago. Can Mark Zuckerberg keep the momentum in mobile going? More

Using technology developed for the military and implemented in Iraq, schools have installed alarm systems that detect gunfire. More

If you're looking to fly this holiday season, the clock's ticking to get the best prices. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.