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Market manages slight gain after choppy day
May 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Matthew Craft The Associated

NEW YORK — Better results from retailers and demand for telecommunications shares helped push the stock market to a small gain on Friday.

Telecoms rose the most among the 10 industries in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Their jump followed news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway made a new investment in Verizon Communications. Other big-name investors, including John Paulson, also reportedly took stakes. Verizon climbed $1.11, or 2 percent, to $49.07.

Major indexes spent much of the day meandering around the breakeven mark. Stocks started higher at the open but reversed course after a report on consumer confidence showed a drop last month. The market took a sudden turn up in the last hour of trading, turning minor losses into minor gains.

“We’ve had a lot of starts and stops recently,” said Dan Cook, a director at Nadex, an exchange in Chicago. “We’re at high levels, so it’s a time to be cautious.”

The S&P 500 index gained 7.01 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,877.86.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 16,491.31. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to finish at 4,090.59.

Investors said the choppy trading reflects a larger uncertainty. The stock market is trading near record highs, but investors see little reason for excitement. Earlier in the week, the S&P 500 index notched all-time highs two days in a row. On Thursday, mixed economic news and a weak earnings report from Wal-Mart Stores drove the market to its worst day in more than a month.

Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, said traders who hunt for patterns in the market’s moves have spotted some warning signs worth noting. For instance, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note recently dropped to its lowest point this year. That’s usually a sign of an economic slowdown.

“But most of the economic reports are coming in better than people thought,” Paulsen said. “If you only paid attention to the bond market over the past few years, you’d think the world was going to end. Not the stock market. Which one was right?”

Before the market opened Friday, the government reported that builders started work on more houses in April, as U.S. construction surged to its highest pace in six months. Nearly all of that increase, however, came from new apartment buildings, a sign that Americans are still struggling to buy single-family homes.

Nordstrom surged $9.06, or 15 percent, to $70.55, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The department store chain reported higher quarterly profits than analysts had expected late Thursday, as better sales at its discount Rack stores boosted results.

J.C. Penney surged $1.36, or 16 percent, to $9.73. Rising sales helped the retailer turn in better results than analysts expected late Thursday. Sales at stores open at least a year — a key gauge of a chain’s health — increased more than 6 percent in its first quarter.

Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market:

NYSE

J.C. Penney Co., up $1.36 to $9.73

A key sales figure rose during the department store operator’s first quarter, an encouraging sign for the troubled company.

Darden Restaurants Inc., down $2.20 to $48.49

The restaurant operator, which owns Olive Garden, said it will sell its Red Lobster chain to an investment firm for $2.1 billion.

Nordstrom Inc., up $9.06 to $70.55

The upscale department store operator reported a strong first quarter thanks to better sales.

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., down $8.66 to $11.27

Shares of the entertainment company fell as investors worried about its new TV deal and prospects for its monthly subscription service.

Verizon Communications Inc., up $1.11 to $49.07

Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a new investment of 11 million shares in the communications company.

RadioShack Corp., down 11 cents to $1.22

Ratings agency Fitch cut its rating on the electronics retailer, saying it may not have enough cash flow to make it through the year.

Nasdaq

Digital Cinema Destinations Corp., up 45 cents to $5.40

The movie theater company said that it has agreed to sell itself to its larger rival Carmike Cinemas Inc.

Autodesk Inc., up $3.85 to $51.67

The maker of design software used by engineers, architects and digital artists, posted strong results for its first quarter.

 

 

Tags: market, percent, stock, sales, better, company,


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