Nasdaq trades briefly above record as stocks gain

Ken Sweet
Associated Press

New York — The Nasdaq composite crossed a milestone and U.S. stocks turned higher in early afternoon trading Thursday, despite mixed earnings reports from General Motors, Proctor & Gamble and others.

The Nasdaq traded briefly above its record close of 5,048.62 reached on March 10, 2000, during the dot-com boom.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,084 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added six points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,113 and the Nasdaq rose 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,045. It traded as high as 5,049.34.

DOLLAR TROUBLES: General Motors fell $1.40, or 4 percent, to $35.76 after the company reported income that fell short of analysts’ expectations. Like other manufacturers, GM’s earnings were impacted by a strong U.S. dollar.

Two other companies impacted by the strong dollar were consumer products giants Proctor & Gamble and 3M. Earnings at P&G were down roughly 8 percent from a year earlier, due largely to the U.S. dollar, which makes its products more expensive when sold abroad. P&G shares fell $1.13, or 1.5 percent, to $81.28. 3M also reported lower profits due to the dollar. Shares of 3M fell $3.72, or 2.3 percent, to $160.95.

Caterpillar slipped 30 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $84.57. While the company reported a better-than-expected profit for last quarter, Caterpillar said it may face bigger issues later this year as long as the dollar remains strong.

WEAK SURVEYS: Investors are also working through a trio of economic surveys from Europe and Asia that showed manufacturing activity slowing down

A survey of European manufacturing and services fell in April, due largely to weakness in France and Germany, the continent’s two largest economies.

At the same time, HSBC said manufacturing in China slowed to its lowest point in a year in April. The latest sign that growth is faltering in the world’s second-biggest economy will add to pressure on policymakers to act to stave off a sharper slowdown.

A similar survey in Japan indicated a third straight monthly decline in manufacturing, suggesting industries are still not in full recovery mode after the recession brought on by a sales tax hike last April.

EUROPE: European markets mostly fell. Germany’s DAX lost 1.2 percent, France’s CAC-40 declined 0.6 percent, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.4 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.75 to $57.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CURRENCIES, BONDS: The dollar fell to 119.65 yen from 119.98 yen late Wednesday. The euro edged higher, to $1.08 from $1.0725. Bond prices were slightly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 1.96 percent from 1.98 percent late Wednesday.