U.S. stocks gained for the third consecutive day on Friday as investors shook off global fears and focused instead on upbeat earnings.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 50.03 points, or 0.41 percent, to end at 12,220.59. The S&P 500 index climbed 4.14 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 1,313.80. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.24 percent.
Economic data was positive on Friday as final fourth quarter 2010 GDP was upwardly revised to 3.1 percent from 2.8 percent. For the week, however, data was disappointing as new home sales, existing home sales, and durable goods orders were sharply below expectations.
Meanwhile, global uncertainties loom: radiation scares from Japan remain, the conflict in the Middle East/North Africa rages on (oil futures remain elevated at $105 per barrel), and investors continue to shun Portuguese sovereign debt.
Nevertheless, the sell-off triggered by Japan’s earthquake two weeks ago may be overdone as investors continue to scoop up bargains.
On the corporate front, Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL) shares gained 1.56 percent to $32.64 as the company reported better-than-estimated earnings on late Thursday. Adjusted profit for the third quarter was $2.8 billion or 54 cents a share, up from $1.9 billion or 38 cents a share last year. Revenue rose 37 percent to $8.8 billion. Analysts had expected profit of 50 cents a share on revenue of $8.67 billion.
Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) shares plunged 11.23 percent to $56.89 as it guided first quarter guidance below Street view. The BlackBerry maker said it expects first quarter earnings of $1.47 to $1.55 a share and revenue of $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion, while Street predicts profit of $1.65 a share on revenue of $5.64 billion. For full year 2012, the company expects earnings in excess of $7.50 a share, while Street predicts $6.81 a share.
Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.01 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.06 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.27 percent.
The euro declined 0.30 percent to 1.4046 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.47 percent. Crude oil futures fell 0.4 percent to $104.98 a barrel and gold futures declined 0.46 percent.
European stock markets were trading mixed in early trade on Monday as renewed concerns over Japan’s nuclear crisis and turmoil in the Middle East weighed on the sentiment.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.03 percent to 275.93. DAX30 declined 15.58 points or 0.22 percent to 6,930.78, CAC 40 fell 2.65 points or 0.07 percent 3,969.73 and the FTSE 100 gained 5.33 points or 0.09 percent to 5,906.09.
Alcatel-Lucent gained 5.5 percent to 4 euros after the company stock was upgraded to “buy” rating from “neutral” rating at Goldman Sachs.
Nokia advanced 3.4 percent to 6.14 euros after the company stock was upgraded to “buy” rating from “neutral” rating at Goldman Sachs.
Porsche Automobil Holding SE declined 3.31 percent to 54.31 euros after the company said its board has agreed to start a 5-billion-euro share sale this week to reduce debt.
Most Asian stock markets declined on Monday as ongoing concerns over Japan’s nuclear crisis and turmoil in the Middle East weighed on the sentiment.
Japanese stocks ended lower with benchmark Nikkei declining 0.60 percent or 57.60 points to 9,478.53.
The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said radiation levels in water in the Fukushima Daiichi No. 2 reactor building were measured at more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.
Shares of Tokyo Electric Power, Japan's biggest utility and operator of the Fukushima nuclear-power plant, plunged 20.45 percent to 700 yen after the company said its first quarter sales may fell short of expectations.
Japan Tobacco Inc. declined 0.6 percent to 312,000 yen after the company said it will halt shipments between March 30 and April 10 because of damage to factories.
Among automakers, Toyota Motor advanced 0.61 percent to 3,295 yen and Honda Motor gained 2.08 percent to 3,040 yen, while Nissan Motor advanced 3.52 percent to 705 yen after announcing resumption of production.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 90.48 points or 0.39 percent to 23,068.19, while Chinese Shanghai composite advanced 0.21 percent or 6.32 points to 2,984.13. China Construction Bank declined 2.32 percent to HK$7.15 after the company said its full full-year net income rose 26 percent to 134.8 billion yuan, while analysts expected net income of 139 billion yuan.
South Korean shares ended flat on Monday as gains from steelmakers offset by declines in shipbuilders’ shares. Seoul composite advanced 2.35 points or 0.11 percent to 2,056.39.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine plunged 7 percent and Hyundai Heavy Industries declined 1.16 percent. Meanwhile POSCO gained 2.7 percent on the news that the company plans to raise prices of key products including hot-rolled steel and shipbuilding plates by 15 to 20 percent as early as April.