Stocks up and on path to strong week
New York • Stock indexes are mostly higher in early trading on Wall Street Friday and are on track to post solid gains for the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average was moving between small gains and losses in the first hour of trading. It was down five points at 15,077 as of 10:31 a.m. Other indexes inched higher.
The Dow is up 0.7 percent for the week and 15 percent so far this year.
Prices for commodities including crude oil and gold fell sharply as the dollar continued to strengthen against other currencies, especially the Japanese yen.
Priceline.com and chip maker Nvidia both rose after reporting higher earnings. Priceline jumped $29, or 3.9 percent, to $766.60 and Nvidia was up 44 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $14.35.
Clothing store chain Gap rose after reporting higher sales in April and predicting first-quarter earnings that were higher than analysts expected. It rose $2.38 to $41.19, or 6 percent.
Nearly all companies in the S&P 500 have reported first quarter earnings. Net income is expected to rise 5 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm. But revenue has fallen short in many cases, suggesting that companies are mostly cutting expenses to post higher profits. Some investors are worried that companies won't be able to keep that up, and profit growth will slow.
The Dow rose above 15,000 for the first time Tuesday and it's stayed there since. The Nasdaq is at 12-year highs. The S&P had risen every day since the beginning of the month until posting a 6-point loss Thursday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up a fraction of a point at 1,626. Seven of the ten industry groups in the S&P 500 were higher. Consumer discretionary stocks led the index, up 1.9 percent.
The Nasdaq composite index was up eight points at 3,417.
One dollar was worth 101.60 yen Friday morning, more than the 100.54 yen it bought late Thursday. The yen has been weakening since last fall as the Bank of Japan floods the Japanese economy with cash in an effort to shake the country out of a two-decade slump.
Japanese stocks surged. A weaker yen is a boon to Japanese exporters of cars, electronics and other goods because they can charge cheaper prices in overseas markets. Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 2.9 percent to close at 14,607, its highest level since January 2008.
Prices for crude oil and gold fell sharply. Crude fell $2.53 to $93.86 a barrel in New York, a loss of 2.6 percent. Gold fell $48 to $1,420 an ounce, or 3.3 percent.
When the dollar rises against other currencies, it tends to weaken demand for commodities. Since commodities are priced in dollars, buyers using other currencies get less for their money when the dollar appreciates, and they respond by buying less.
Among other stocks in the news:
Dell climbed after activist investor Carl Icahn and another big investor fighting founder Michael Dell's offer to take the company private launched another broadside against the plan. In a letter to Dell's board, they proposed the company stay public and pay shareholders cash or stock worth $12 a share. Dell rose to 6 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $13.38 per share.
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