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Saturday, 28 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: -74.17 Level: 12660.46 NASDAQ PointChange: +11.27 Level: 2816.55 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.3 R2K PercentChange: +0.7 SP400 PercentChange: +0.5 SP500 PointChange: -2.11 Level: 1316.33 NASDAQ-Adv:1600 Dec: 870 NYSE-Adv:1927 Dec: 1040 [BRIEFING.COM] Listless and lackluster action left stocks to slog along in negative territory for almost the entire session, but a late lift helped the S&P 500 limit its loss in the face of disappointing fourth quarter GDP data. The effort ensured the broad market measure eked out an incremental gain of less than 0.1% for the week. Still, that marked its fourth straight weekly gain.

The major equity averages were mostly mixed this session -- the Dow was down for the entire day, while the S&P 500 managed to limit its move lower and the Nasdaq maintained its position narrowly above the neutral line. Dow components Procter & Gamble (PG 64.30, -0.50) and Chevron (CVX 103.96, -2.63) both displayed weakness, even though consumer staples giant P&G posted an upside earnings surprise and integrated oil outfit Chevron was the one that came short of the consensus earnings estimate. The Nasdaq was helped by Netflix (NFLX 123.79, +7.78), which extended its prior session rally to offset weakness in Starbucks (SBUX 47.85, -0.49) as the coffee company suffered selling pressure despite its upside earnings surprise.

Other earnings reports featured on Friday included Ford (F 12.28, -0.46), which fell short of expectations, but Altria (MO 28.14, -0.52) had better-than-expected results. Honeywell (HON 58.27, +0.44) had an in-line report.

Financials offered some leadership late in the session. The sector had been mired in the red with a modest loss for most of the session, but broke out in the final hour. Although it eased off of its high in the final 30 minutes, it still settled with a 0.4% gain, which is better than what any other sector achieved on the session.

Utilities fell out of favor after they had posted the only gain of any major group in the prior session. The defensive-oriented sector slid 1.3% on Friday.

Although stocks spent most of the session trading in mixed fashion, market participants didn't appear too spooked or disappointed by an advance estimate on fourth quarter GDP, which showed that the economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.8% in the fourth quarter, up from a 1.8% clip in the prior quarter. However, the increase in activity still came short of the consensus call of 3.2% growth. A deeper look shows that most growth in the fourth quarter was owed to an increase in private inventories, although increases in personal consumption expenditures and residential fixed investment also provided positive contributions.

The University of Michigan released a finalized Consumer Sentiment Survey for January that showed a reading of 75.0, up from 74.0 in the preliminary reading. That exceeded the 74.2 that had been generally expected among economists polled by

A substantial serving of economic reports on Thursday helped make up for the dearth of data earlier in the week, but their overall quality was mixed relative to expectations. Leading Indicators increased by 0.4% during December after a downwardly revised 0.2% increase in the prior month, but that was less than the consensus call for a 0.7% increase. For the first time since 1996 the Index experienced a change in its calculation. .. Durable goods orders for December increased by 3.0% to best the consensus for a 2.0% increase. That came on top of an upwardly revised 4.3% increase for the prior month. Excluding autos, durable orders climbed 2.1%, which is considerably better than the 0.7% increase that had been commonly expected. Orders less autos for the prior month were revised upward to reflect a 0.5% increase. .. The latest weekly initial jobless claims tally increased by 21,000 to 377,000, which is on par with the 375,000 initial claims that many had expected. Notably, the uptick did not alter the downward trend in the 4-week moving average, which decreased by 2,500 to 377,500. .. New home sales for December fell 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000 units, but analysts polled by had generally expected sales to climb to clip of 321,000 units. The drop in new home sales came in the face of a 12.8% decline in median home prices to $210,300. .. On Wednesday market participants were dealt disappointing pending home sales numbers for December. They showed a 3.5% drop when a 3.0% decline had been expected. .. The highlight of the session, however, was news that the Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its federal funds target rate at 0.00% to 0.25%, and that economic conditions are expected to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate through at least late 2014. That forecast for the fed funds rate preceded news that the Fed now believes economic growth in 2012 will range from 2.2% to 2.7%, which is down from the previously forecasted range of 2.5% to 2.9%. .. Without any data during the first two days of the week market participants took their cues from Europe amid speculation about Greece's dealings with its creditors. Disappointment and frustration related to ongoing wrangling induced selling some days, but ultimately the euro was able to rally back. On Friday alone it rallied about 1% against the greenback. That helped fuel a gain of more than 2% for the week. Although nothing official has been stated, rumors continue to point to a possible solution between Greece and its creditors. .. Although generally strong, earnings didn't generate much excitement in the broad market this week. That's not to say there weren't any stock-specific swings, though. .. Colgate-Palmolive (CL 90.40, -0.95) announced in-line earnings earlier in the week, but blue chips 3M (MMM 87.46, -0.12) and Caterpillar (CAT 111.28, -0.03) bested expectations for the bottom line. AT&T (T 29.16, -0.29) came short of the consensus estimate, as did Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 32.29, -0.19). Apple (AAPL 447.28, +2.65) absolutely blew out Wall Street's forecast, prompting the stock to bound to a new record high, but better-than-expected earnings from Boeing (BA 74.55, -0.76), United Technologies (UTX 77.62, +0.21), and ConocoPhillips (COP 69.40, -0.13) were given less regard when they were released. .. Although both tech plays posted upside earnings surprises, shares of Texas Instruments (TXN 32.61, +0.42) were sold after their quarterly report was released whereas Western Digital (WDC 37.05, +0.04) was a top performer in the wake of its announcement. Market participants also had varied responses to better-than-expected results from blue chips Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 65.56, -0.14), DuPont (DD 50.72, -0.22), and McDonald's (MCD 98.69, -0.49). Fellow Dow components Travelers (TRV 58.05, -0.65) and Verizon (VZ 37.21, -0.13) both traded lower after they posted earnings that came short of what had been widely expected. .. Halliburton (HAL 37.10, +0.94) was the most widely held name in a handful of companies that announced earnings at the very start of the week. Though it posted better-than-expected bottom-line results while in the spotlight, the stock still encountered selling pressure...

Source: Briefing

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