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Stocks close mixed after GE’s earnings

The Dow and S&P 500 rose on Friday as General Electric Co's earnings put a positive tone on the economic recovery, snapping a two-day losing skid for the benchmark index.
/ Source: Reuters

The Dow and S&P 500 rose on Friday as General Electric's earnings put a positive tone on the economic recovery, snapping a two-day losing skid for the benchmark index.

The Nasdaq was pulled lower by Google, ending a week marked by investors pulling back from outperforming technology shares.

Shares of General Electric, considered a bellwether for the economy and corporate America, rose 7.1 percent to $19.74 and hit their highest intraday level since November 2008. The stock, the top positive in the Dow, also scored its biggest daily percentage jump since March 2009.

GE reported stronger-than-expected earnings, helped by the recovery of its finance arm and a rise in revenue at its industrial units, including a sharp pickup in sales of locomotives.

"Look at the two stocks, where they've been and where they are. GE has been under a tremendous amount of pressure before all this started," said Doreen Mogavero, CEO of Mogavero, Lee & Co. in New York.

"Google has acted very well throughout, so there may be a little bit more room for growth in GE, might be the thought."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.04 points, or 0.41 percent, to end at 11,871.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 3.09 points, or 0.24 percent, to 1,283.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 14.75 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,689.54.

For the week, the Dow rose 0.7 percent, the S&P lost 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 2.4 percent.

Even with Friday's advance, the S&P snapped a seven-week streak of gains. But the Dow managed its eighth consecutive weekly gain, its longest streak since the March through April run in 2010, in which the index hit a high that stood for six months.

The S&P 500 is up 8.7 percent since the start of December, but the index lost more than 1 percent over the past two days. Many technical and other analysts see the up trend continuing through at least the first half of the year, but some have forecast a pullback for the near term.

It could be that the pullback is limited to stocks that have far outperformed the major indexes, such as the cloud computing stocks. CSFB analysts noted that high correlation between stocks in the S&P 500 is starting to decline, in comparison to recent periods when most of the market has gone up in tandem, and higher-valued names could remain under pressure."

Google Inc shares were down 2.4 percent at $611.83 after hitting an intraday high of $641.73 as confidence that CEO Larry Page would rejuvenate the No. 1 Internet search company wavered. Late Thursday, Google reported earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations.

The action in Google shares is "not so much Google earnings, but a factor of the market itself," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading at Apex Capital in San Francisco.

"We had such a massive run in the end of December and early this month, we might be seeing selling into good earnings," he said. "The long, fast money (is) paring gains and preparing themselves for some type of consolidation short term."

Investors also contended with options expiration, with January options on individual stocks set to expire after the close. The expiry sometimes adds to market volatility.

Tempering some of the earnings optimism were results from Bank of America Corp , the latest bank to disappoint investors.

Bank of America shares fell 2 percent to $14.25 after the largest U.S. bank by assets reported a second straight quarterly loss, driven by a $2 billion write-down in its mortgage business.

The results follow disappointing results earlier this week from Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo . An index of bank shares, KBW Banks, was up 1.6 percent, however.

Volume was slightly below average with about 7.96 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, just short of last year's estimated daily average of 8.47 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,578 to 1,424, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers 1,549 to 1,073.