Wall Street Eyeing 4th Day of Gains; Amazon, Expedia Jump

 @ibtimes
on April 27 2012 1:07 PM

(REUTERS) -- Stocks rose modestly on Friday, putting equities on track for a fourth day of gains as more strong earnings partially offset a weaker-than-expected reading on economic growth.

Both Amazon.com Inc. and Expedia Inc. reported profits that topped consensus estimates. Expedia surged 27 percent to $41.50 and was the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500, followed by Amazon, which climbed 15.3 percent to $225.98.

With 287 S&P 500 companies reporting, about 73 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Economic data has been mixed in recent days, a trend that was reflected in the latest report. First-quarter gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate, below the forecast of 2.5 percent.

Earnings have been spectacular, and that's a shot in the arm to investors, but GDP is acting as a counterweight, said David Dietze, president and chief investment strategist at Summit, New Jersey-based Point View Wealth Management.

When coupled with other weak data, the ghost of a slowdown starts to loom and that's causing investors to pause a little despite better-than-expected results from blue chips like Amazon.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33.72 points, or 0.26 percent, at 13,238.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.70 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,402.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index put on 15.20 points, or 0.50 percent, at 3,065.81.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both on track for their best weeks in a month. A blowout quarter from Apple Inc gave the Nasdaq its best day of the year earlier this week.

The moves in the indexes have wiped out much of April's losses. After three days of gains, the S&P is well above its 50-day moving average.

Procter & Gamble Co. cut its full-year profit view and posted lower earnings. Shares fell 3.5 percent to $64.55, the biggest percentage decliner on the Dow.

Starbucks Corp. fell 5.1 percent to $57.57 and was one of the biggest percentage decliners on the Nasdaq 100 <.NDX> as weakness in Europe pressured global sales.

Earnings at both Chevron Corp. and Merck & Co. came in slightly above estimates. Merck shares dipped 0.1 percent at $38.42 as revenue trailed the Wall Street view, while Chevron was 0.1 percent lower at $106.17.

Ford Motor Co.'s results surpassed expectations as its North American unit reported the best profit in at least 12 years. But the stock fell 1.6 percent to $11.67 after executives said it lost U.S. market share in April.

Consumer sentiment was little changed in April, as Americans expected the economy to slowly improve though they were less cheery about the state of their own finances, a survey showed.

Earlier in the week, reports showed jobless claims data remained above levels from earlier this year, while demand for long-lasting manufactured goods tumbled by the most in three years in March.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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