Stocks edged higher on Friday, headed for their best week in a year, as investors looked forward to the start of the earnings season after weeks of selling.
Google Inc helped lift the Nasdaq, rising 1.9 percent to $465.15 after Beijing gave the company the green light to continue operating its China Internet search page. U.S.-listed shares of rival Baidu Inc fell 2.6 percent to $70.57. For details, see [ID:nSGE6680F9]
Wall Street saw a solid rebound this week, but the low trading volume and volatile swings in the session suggested investors still harbor doubts about the economy, fed by dismal data that raised fears of a double-dip recession.
Investors are reassessing these concerns now as they expect a positive earnings season, said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.
But we are likely to see more volatility next week. Although the numbers that the companies report may be good, the guidance that they give may not be.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 8.67 points, or 0.09 percent, at 10,147.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.78 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,073.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 7.38 points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,182.78.
The S&P 500 has risen 4.8 percent so far this week and could notch a fourth straight day of gains on Friday. But the index is still down about 12 percent from its most recent closing high in late April and down about 4 percent so far this year.
The earnings season unofficially kicks off with Alcoa Inc after the closing bell on Monday. The aluminum company, the first Dow component to report, is expected to swing to a second-quarter profit, though falling aluminum prices have prompted analysts to cut their estimates on the stock.
Johnson & Johnson was the biggest drag on the Dow, falling 1.3 percent to $60.56 a day after it recalled more Tylenol and other over-the-counter drugs following consumer complaints of odors. The move expands a recall started in January.
In deal news, Air Products and Chemicals Inc late Thursday raised its hostile bid for rival Airgas Inc by 5.8 percent to $5.3 billion, but the offer remained slightly below the company's current market value.
Air Products rose 0.8 percent to $69.36, while Airgas rose 1.2 percent to $64.61.
In economic news, U.S. wholesale sales fell unexpectedly in May, lifting inventories to their highest level in 11 months, a government report showed. Analysts said a slackening in demand could lead businesses to try to curb the inventory buildup, weighing on economic growth. [ID:nN09265120]
Recent U.S. data showing slowing growth in the services and manufacturing sector, weakness in housing and a stagnating jobs market also worried investors, although most say it is too early to call a double-dip recession.
In addition to Alcoa, companies reporting next week include JPMorgan Chase & Co , Bank of America Corp and General Electric Co .
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)