U.S. stocks ended higher Friday, snapping a two slide for
equities. Shares of consumer staples and healthcare companies led
the late rally, leading the markets back from a mid-day slump and
keeping stocks from adding to what already had been the worst
two-day slide for the global markets in 21 months.
Equities appeared set early to stem this week's steep declines
that followed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday
saying the U.S. central bank could begin to scale back its stimulus
actions later this year if the U.S. economy continues to improve.
Asian and European markets were mixed today, with any losses kept
relatively in check compared to recent sessions. Fears that China's
credit markets are seizing up dissipated following reports the
People's Bank of China made money available to lenders. The one-day
repo rate receded 3.84 percentage points to 7.9%, its biggest drop
since 2007, while the seven-day rate fell 3.51 percentages points
from the record high it set on Thursday.
Maintaining those initial gains proved difficult, howver, with
the major indices for U.S. stocks all falling well in the red by
mid-day before again reversing course and locking down moderate
advances heading into the close. Technology stocks lagged the field
throughout the session, also keeping the Nasdaq Composite index
from participating in the late rally.
Friday was a quiet day for economic reports but it was a
quadruple witching session - the once-quarterly expiration of stock
options, stock futures, and index option or futures contracts along
with the individual stock futures options - often resulting in
increased volatility, especially in the final hour of trading.
Commodities were mixed. Crude oil for August delivery settled
$1.45 lower at $93.69 per barrel while July natural gas was down 11
cents to $3.77 per 1 mln BTU. August gold rose $6.30 to $1292.20
per ounce while July silver added 13 cents to finish at $19.95 per
ounce. July copper rose 4 cents to settle at $3.10 per pound.
Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 41.08 (+0.28%) to 14,799.40
S&P 500 up 4.24 (+0.27%) to 1,592.43
Nasdaq Composite Index down 7.38 (-0.22%) to 3,357.25
Hang Seng Index down 0.59%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.52%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.70%
(+) ORMP, Withdraws proposed public offering of 24 mln shares
filed with securities regulators on Jan. 11, citing market
(+) SPRD, Receives $1.38-bln, non-binding buyout proposal from
Tsinghua Holdings Co. Ltd. - a state-owned limited liability
company funded by Tsinghua University in China - offering $28.50
per American Depositary Share in cash for the fabless
(+) MGI, Reportedly has hired Bank of America Corp/Merrill Lynch
to explore a sale of the company, a person familiar with the matter
tells Bloomberg News, asking not to be named because the process is
private. DealReporter earlier this week said the money-transfers
firm is in merger talks, resulting in a spiking share price.
(-) ORCL, Adjusted Q4 EPS of $0.87 matched the analyst
consensus. Revenue was unchanged for the second quarter in a row at
$10.9 bln, missing expectations by $222 mln. The company also said
it would double its quarterly dividend to $0.12 per share,
authorized a $12-bln stock buyback and move its stock listing to
the New York Stock Exchange.
(-) IDIX, FDA requests additional pre-clinical safety
information for its IDX209603 drug candidate, putting the start of
clinical testing is on hold until it can provide a satisfactory
response to the agency. IDIX recently submitted an Investigational
New Drug application for the prospective treatment for hepatitis
(-) AHT, Prices secondary offering of 11 mln shares of its
common stock at $12 apiece. Proceeds will be used for the proposed
spin-off of an 80% stake in its hotel portfolio as Ashford
Hospitality Prime Inc.