U.S. Stocks Edge Higher

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Matt Jarzemsky

U.S. stocks rose Friday as investors shrugged off concerns about military tensions in Iraq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43 points, or 0.3%, to 16777 in late-afternoon trading. The S&P 500 added seven points, or 0.3%, to 1934. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 15 points, or 0.3%, to 4312.

Internet stocks rallied, led by OpenTable, after Priceline Group agreed to buy the restaurant booking service for $ 2.6 billion in cash. OpenTable rallied 48%. Yelp jumped 14% and GrubHub gained 7%.

Intel Corp. advanced 6.5% after boosting its financial estimates on stronger-than-expected personal-computer demand.

Energy shares in the S&P 500 posted the strongest gains among the index's 10 sectors as oil prices capped their biggest weekly gain of the year. Utilities stocks rose, reversing morning losses.

The gains pared recent days' losses for major benchmarks. The Dow and S&P 500 were on pace to post their first weekly losses in four weeks, having fallen Wednesday and Thursday amid an escalating conflict between Iraq's military and insurgents in the country.

"When there's been a pullback in the market, investors jump in and say, 'you know what, this is the small pullback that I've been waiting for so I'll get involved a little bit," said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at New York brokerage Meridian Equity Partners.

Traders said activity was light Friday, mirroring the quiet tone that has characterized the stock market for much of this year. In the background, mounting tensions in Iraq and concerns about central banks' accommodative policy stance put some investors on edge, but many are sticking with bullish bets as the U.S. economy has continued to show slow-but- steady improvement.

"We do see recovery, we do see credit growth and job growth, which is the important thing. But the question is, is it enough?" said Wayne Lin, who oversees about $10.6 billion as a portfolio manager at Legg Mason's global asset- allocation group. "To me, it feels like we're sort of just slogging through. That's the thing we're struggling with."

But Mr. Lin has maintained a bullish stance on U.S. stocks, even as he sees valuations as "fair and starting to look a bit rich," because he sees other assets like bonds as even more overvalued.

For the week, the S&P 500 was down 0.8% and the Dow was down 1%.

Bonds fell after Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney said late Thursday that interest rates in the U.K. could rise sooner than investors expect. The remarks put some investors in U.S. government debt on edge ahead of a meeting of the U.S. central bank's policy-setting committee next week.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, ticked up to 2.614% from 2.586% late Thursday.

On the economic front, the producer-price index for May declined 0.2% on the month, missing forecasts for a 0.2% rise. Excluding volatile food and energy components, core PPI was flat, versus expectations of a 0.1% increase.

The preliminary Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for June fell to 81.2, bucking economists' forecast for an increase to 83.0 from May's final reading of 81.9.

With the Iraqi government girding to protect the capital from advancing insurgents, President Barack Obama and his administration have signaled that they are weighing possible airstrikes to lend support.

Fears of further violence in Iraq have pushed oil prices higher. Crude-oil futures climbed 0.4% to $106.91 a barrel, after surging 2% on Thursday, the biggest one-day percentage gain in over two months.

Gold futures inched up less than 0.1% to $1,273.70 an ounce.

European markets fell as worries about Iraq and possible rate increases in the U.K. weighed on sentiment. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 0.2%.

Asian markets showed some strength, with China's Shanghai Composite rising 0.9% after data showing bank lending surged in May. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.8%.

In other corporate news, Express Inc. surged 20% after private-equity firm Sycamore Partners reported a 9.9% stake in the retailer and said it was interested in looking into a possible buyout.

Citigroup dropped 1.7% after reports the Justice Department has warned the bank it's seeking a figure close to $10 billion to settle investigations into how Citi handled securitized mortgages.

Write to Tomi Kilgore at tomi.kilgore@wsj.com

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

This article appears in: News Headlines

Referenced Stocks: EXPR

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