Stocks made more gains on Friday, with the Dow and S&P closing higher for the third-straight week, lifted by strong earnings reports that sent shares of Amazon and Microsoft soaring .
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 61 points higher, at 15,570.28 -- about 1 percent off its all-time record high.
The S&P 500 finished at a fresh high of 1,759.77 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose to a 13-year high, knocking on the door of 4,000. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed near 13.
All key S&P sectors closed in positive territory, boosted by telecoms and utilities.
Equities briefly pared their gains during the day after Senator Rand Paul threatened to put Janet Yellen's nomination as Federal Reserve chairman on hold this week, according to sources close to Paul.
Paul is insisting on a vote on his Fed transparency bill, and has informed Senate leadership of his intentions, according to the source.
"This market has been so temperamental for a long time and it's remarkable that any little headline—especially out of Washington—will cause a knee-jerk reaction," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co. "This market is not trading on fundamentals but on soundbites and headlines."
On the economic front, consumer sentiment slid to to 73.2 in October, falling to the lowest level since December 2012, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a reading of 75.0.
New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods outside of transportation equipment fell in September in a possible sign companies were holding back on investments due to uncertainty over government spending. Total durable goods orders rose 3.7 percent, but excluding transportation, slipped 0.1 percent, according to the Commerce Department.
And wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in August, according to the Commerce Department, logging the biggest increase since January.
Amazon stock spiked over 9 percent higher after the online retail powerhouse reported revenue that blew past expectations on Thursday. Dow component Microsoft also rallied almost 6 percent after the software giant posted quarterly earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street expectations.
So far, 243 S&P 500 companies have posted quarterly results so far this quarter, with 68 percent of firms topping earnings expectations and 54 percent beating revenue estimates. If all remaining companies report earnings in line with estimates, earnings will be up 3.4 percent from last year's third quarter.
Nasdaq OMX said it plans to pay out $41.6 million in compensation to firms that lost money due to glitches in the May 2012 Facebook IPO. The figure is lower than the originally-expected estimate of $62 million, mostly because UBS decided not to file a claim.
First published October 25 2013, 1:16 PM