Stocks rise on tech earnings; Nasdaq adds to record
New York — Stocks advanced slightly Friday as investors cheered the quarterly results of three large technology companies: Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
The modest gains helped close out a relatively strong week for U.S. stocks, with the three major indexes rising between 1.4 and 3.2 percent in five days. The Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq composite closed at record highs.
Investors now prepare for the biggest week of earnings season. Next week, more than 150 companies in the S&P 500 will report their results, including such market-moving names as Apple, Ford, Visa, Pfizer and Exxon Mobil.
On Friday, The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,080.14. The S&P 500 rose 4.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,117.69 and the Nasdaq rose 36.02 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,092.08.
The Nasdaq beat its record of 5,048.62, set on March 10, 2000 at the height of the dot-com boom, on Thursday.
Microsoft, Amazon and Google all rose sharply after the releasing their quarterly results, which helped lift the Nasdaq more than the Dow or S&P 500. A common theme was signs that the companies were growing sales outside of their bread-and-butter businesses.
Amazon jumped $55.11, or 14 percent, to $445.10 in heavy trading. While the company reported a quarterly loss, Amazon showed it had 49 percent sales growth in Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing division. The promise that cloud computing could bolster Amazon's bottom line was enough to send investors flooding into the stock.
Microsoft rose $4.53, or 11 percent, to $47.87. The software giant had results that beat expectations, and like Amazon, showed promising growth in its cloud computing business. Lastly, Google rose $16.20, or 3 percent, to $573.66. The search and advertising company missed analysts' expectations; the company had strong growth in mobile advertising.
Investors have been looking for Google, Microsoft and Amazon to show some sort of progress outside their traditional businesses. Microsoft cannot solely rely on computer sales to drive its profits, Amazon has very low profit margins on the products it sells and Google is heavily exposed to desktop computer advertising while the world is shifting to mobile.
"I think we are starting to see actual evidence that their strategies are working, especially at Microsoft and Amazon," said Dan Morgan, a portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company, who owns shares of all three companies.
Next week could be a make-or-break period for investors. So far, first quarter earnings have come in softer than what investors had anticipated, which has caused analysts to write down their forecasts. Most companies have blamed the U.S. dollar as a reason why sales and profits are down, but there are only so many excuses investors will accept before they sell.
First-quarter profits are expected to be down 2.8 percent from a year earlier. It would be the first time corporate profits have declined since the third quarter of 2012, according to FactSet.
In the energy markets, the price of U.S. crude oil fell 59 cents to close at $57.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 43 cents to close at $65.28 a barrel in London.
The dollar fell to 118.93 yen from 119.62 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.0866. U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.91 percent from 1.96 percent late Thursday.
In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to close at $2.008 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.4 cent to close at $1.928 a gallon. Natural gas was unchanged at $2.531 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In metals trading, gold fell $19.30 to $1,175 an ounce, silver fell 19 cents to $15.64 an ounce and copper rose five cents to $2.75 a pound.
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