U.S. stocks traded higher Friday, with Dow component General Electric Co. leading the blue-chip index higher after the conglomerate announced a major restructuring of its financial unit. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar hit a three-week high as the first quarter earnings season got underway. Investors are preparing for a wave of quarterly financial results from the major U.S. banks next week.
In morning trading Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 18.15 points, or 0.10 percent, to 17,976.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 3.67 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,094.85. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 4.48 points, or 0.09 percent, to 4,979.05.
Shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) gained more than 8 percent Friday to $27.85 after the company announced a major restructuring of GE Capital by exiting the financial services business. The move will include the sale of most of the unit's assets, and GE will institute a $50 billion stock buyback program with proceeds from the move.
The U.S. dollar hit a three-week high Friday, extending a 1 percent gain against major world currencies a day earlier. The euro fell to $1.06 on Friday against the dollar.
Oil prices traded mixed Friday as West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, edged down 0.43 percent to $50.57 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, rose 0.65 percent to $56.94 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Ahead on the economic calendar, the U.S. Treasury will publish its monthly federal budget for March on Friday at 2 p.m. EDT.