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Bulls Fight Back in Volatile Action

US stock were volatile on Friday following Thursday's ugly sell-off.

The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) dipped at the open but fought back with a late-afternoon rally to finish at 1877.86, up 0.4%.

Beneath the surface, the action was mixed. The Russell 2000 (INDEXRUSSELL:RUT) rose 0.6%, but investors remained wary of some high-beta groups, namely social media and biotech. Financials also failed to impress.

On the economic data front, April Housing Starts were 1,072K, which was well ahead of the 980,000 consensus. Building Permits were also strong, coming in at 1,080K versus the 1,020K expected. March numbers for both were also revised up fractionally.

Those numbers helped housing stocks finish in the green today, with the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (NYSEARCA:ITB) trading up 0.7%.

However, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index's preliminary May reading was weaker than expected at 81.1, which represented a drop from April's 84.1.

Semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials ( AMAT ) soared 8.1% after beating analysts' second-quarter earnings estimates, giving a significant boost to semiconductor names.

Wrestling giant WWE ( WWE ) fell 43.5% to $11.27 today after announcing a disappointing new television deal and lower-than-expected full-year operating income guidance.

Darden Restaurants ( DRI ) dropped 4.3% after announcing the $2.1 billion sale of its Red Lobster chain to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital. The deal disappointed investors who were expecting a possible full breakup of the company, as some activist investors have requested.

Some retail stocks shined after Thursday's Wal-Mart ( NYSE:WMT)-led drubbing. J.C. Penney ( JCP ) and Nordstrom ( JWN ) each rallied well over 10% after reporting better-than-expected earnings.

Indian stocks moved big today after the pro-business Narendra Modi won the election for prime minister. His Bharatiya Janata Party also won a majority of India's Parliament. As a result, the iShares MSCI India ETF (BATS:INDA) rose 4.5%. Other emerging markets such as China and Brazil rallied in concert.

Tomorrow's Financial Outlook

Monday is apt to be a very quiet day as there are no major domestic or international economic data releases on the calendar.

Earnings season is still slowing, but on Monday, there are a few notable names reporting first-quarter results, including Campbell Soup (CPB), Hertz Global (HTZ), and KBR (KBR).

Twitter: @Minyanville

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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