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Stocks see first positive week for month

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 20, 2012.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)Brendan Mcdermid / REUTERS

Wall Street closed its first positive week for the month on Friday on strong U.S. corporate earnings, although technology stocks pared some gains, while the euro and oil prices rose on reduced worries over Spain's debt burden.

The Dow and the S&P 500 index closed Friday higher, but the tech-rich Nasdaq composite index was weighed down by a decline in Apple's share price.

U.S. Treasuries prices shed early losses caused by softer demand for bonds and safe-havens. The 10-year Treasury note was near flat toward the close, although traders remained cautious ahead of Sunday's French elections and next week's gatherings of policymakers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The market’s stronger performance came after stellar first-quarter results from fast-food chain McDonald's, software giant Microsoft and top U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co.

Of the 121 S&P 500 components reporting through Friday morning, 81 percent beat expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

"It continues to be another good earnings season," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

"They are good signs the U.S. economy remains on track, it's not super growth, but it's growth."

Some analysts cautioned that there had been no clear break in the push-and-pull exerted on the market by macroeconomic forces over the past week.

"We are seeing this constant struggle, and we are at the same point as the last two years come the spring, where you see earnings continue to be positive," said Michael Gault, senior portfolio strategist at WeiserMazars Wealth Advisory in New York.

"Some of the macroeconomic pressures [are] really fighting back what corporate earnings are doing and indicating in terms of the status of the recovery."

While Spain was not the foremost thing on investors' minds as in the previous two days, underlying concerns about Madrid's budget deficit, banking sector and poor growth outlook were real and constant, analysts said.

Many worry that if Spain's bond yields rise to 7 percent and beyond, it could make the country's borrowing costs unaffordable.

Spanish 10-year government bond yields topped 6 percent for a third time this week after a debt auction on Thursday fell short of market expectations.

The creeping Spanish yields should keep the euro constrained within the $1.30-$1.32 range, currency traders said.

A small respite from the worries over Spain and the euro zone came from the Ifo survey of German business sentiment, which unexpectedly rose for the sixth straight month.

Demand for U.S. government bonds softened ahead of the first round of French elections on Sunday, the semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington and the Fed's policy meeting next week.

Reuters contributed to this report.