Stocks close out a strong week

@CNNMoneyInvest April 27, 2012: 4:39 PM ET
u.s. stock market

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks moved higher Friday, capping a weekly gain, as upbeat corporate results outweighed a weaker-than-expected report on first-quarter economic growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 28 points, or 0.2%, to end at 13,228. Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) was the biggest drag on the Dow after the consumer staple company lowered its outlook for full-year earnings. The stock fell 4%.

The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 4 points, or 0.3%, to 1,403. The Nasdaq (COMP) added 18 points, or 0.6%, to 3,069.

Stocks started the week on a sour note, with a sharp selloff on Monday. But the Dow & S&P 500 have climbed for four days in a row, driven mainly by better-than-expected corporate earnings.

For the week, the Dow gained 1.5%. The S&P 500 advanced 1.8% and the Nasdaq is 2.3% higher for the week.

On Friday, the top performers on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were Expedia (EXPE) and Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500). Expedia surged 23% after the travel booking website reported strong earnings late Thursday. Amazon jumped 15% after its results beat expectations and eased concerns about the online retailer's expansion.

Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) shares fell 2% after it reported a 45% plunge in quarterly profit, because of losses in Europe and a slight dip in sales. But the automaker still managed to beat expectations.

As of Thursday, 300 companies in the S&P 500 had reported earnings, and 70% of them beat estimates, according to Capital IQ.

Overall, Capital IQ expects earnings to grow 6.6% in the first quarter, or 4.5% excluding the profit machine that is Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500).

While that would be down from the fourth quarter, such earnings growth would still suggest that "the world isn't ending," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.

"The market is trading at distrust discount, and increased confidence should allow stock prices to move higher, even if earnings don't," Ablin added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government said first-quarter gross domestic product -- the broadest measure of the nation's economic health -- rose at an annual rate of 2.2%.

The report was weaker than expected. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney forecast that GDP grew at a 2.5% rate in the first quarter, down from 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"While the economy continued to grow in the first quarter, the expansion remains modest in pace and subpar from a historical perspective," said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

After Thursday's closing bell, the S&P announced that it was downgrading Spain's credit rating from "A" to "BBB+," citing numerous drags on growth and an ailing banking sector that might require further government support.

On Friday, the Spanish government said unemployment rose to 24.4% in the first quarter.

U.S. stocks ended with gains Thursday as hopes for more Federal Reserve stimulus and positive housing data overtook worries about the job market and mixed corporate earnings.

Companies: Dow component Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) reported quarterly earnings of 93 cents per share, which beat expectations by one cent. Sales rose by 2% to $20.2 billion.

But the company, which makes everything from batteries to laundry detergent, lowered its forecast for full-year profits.

P&G now expects 2012 earnings per share to be in the range of of $3.63 to $3.74, down from a range of $3.85 to $4.08.

The drug giant Merck (MRK, Fortune 500) reported that its quarterly earnings jumped 8% to 99 cents per share, excluding certain charges. But the company fell short of forecasts by Thomson One Analytics projecting earnings of $1.03 per share.

Economy: A measure of consumer sentiment inched up to 76.4 in April, roughly in line with estimates. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index stood at 76.2 in March.

World markets: European stocks closed higher. London's FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 0.5%, the CAC 40 (CAC40) in Paris gained 1.1% and the DAX (DAX) in Frankfurt rose 0.9%.

Asian markets lost ground, despite steps by the Bank of Japan to further ease monetary policy there by announcing ¥5 trillion of additional asset purchases. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) shed 0.4%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong slipped 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) fell 0.4%.

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

Oil for June delivery rose 38 cents to $104.93 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery rose $4.30 to $1,664.80 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged higher, pushing the yield down to 1.95%.  To top of page

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 9:51am 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
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
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