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July 23, 2008 > Wall Street mixed after earnings reports

Wall Street mixed after earnings reports

By Joe Bel Bruno, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP), Jul 18 _ Wall Street closed out an impressive week with a mixed performance Friday after disappointing high-tech earnings punctured some of investors' enthusiasm over better-than-expected bank earnings reports. But the major indexes still ended the week with big gains, the result of rising optimism about the troubled financial sector.

The market was clearly pleased when Citigroup Inc., while reporting a second-quarter loss Friday morning, beat analysts' forecasts and joined Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in delivering stronger results than the market anticipated. But investors who ecstatically sent the Dow Jones industrials soaring by more than 480 points over Wednesday and Thursday were brought back down to earth by results from Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Google's results were lower than expected, the result of the weakening economy hurting advertising revenue, while Microsoft missed forecasts by a penny. Also, AMD's chief executive stepped down after the chip maker posted a wider-than-expected loss.

Still, the market that has hungered for good news about financial companies after a year-long credit crisis got it from Citi. The banking company reported a $2.5 billion second-quarter loss due to write-downs tied to deteriorating credit markets. The results surpassed projections, and helped to mitigate some of the market's concerns following a big loss from Merrill Lynch & Co. reported late Thursday.

It was a good sign to some analysts that the market didn't sell off sharply after two straight days of hefty gains.

``If you look at the fundamentals, not a lot of changed in the fundamentals, but you had the financial crisis come to a head,'' said Philip Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher. ``This was a pivotal week that we just went through, one that perhaps marked a bottom for the financial crisis. That doesn't mean we're about to have a bull market, but maybe a break in the pronounced selling that's been going on.''

More banks are among the companies reporting next week: Wachovia Corp., Washington Mutual Inc. and Bank of America Corp. And hundreds of other big corporations will also be releasing results, keeping the market on edge as investors try to determine whether an economic rebound might be in the offing.

The Dow rose 49.91, or 0.44 percent, to 11,496.57, adding on to a 483-point gain Wednesday and Thursday.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.36, or 0.03 percent, to 1,260.68, and the technology-focused Nasdaq composite index dropped 29.52, or 1.28 percent, to 2,282.78.

For the week, the Dow rose 3.57 percent, the Nasdaq increased 1.95 percent, and the S&P rose 1.71 percent.

Bond prices fell Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 4.09 percent from Thursday's 4.00 percent.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Meanwhile, oil prices retreated after rising earlier in the session. A barrel of light, sweet crude fell 41 cents to settle at $128.88 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil's huge pullback this week _ dropping about $16 over three days _ also fed Wall Street's big rally. Stock investors have been worried that consumers forced to pay more for necessities including fuel and food will continue to cut back on their discretionary spending, something that would further hurt a struggling economy.

While the week on Wall Street showed that a market long pummeled by bad economic news can quickly turn around, there have been many times over the past year when a huge gain quickly evaporated at the first sign of trouble. So while many investors felt that it was safe to lay down some bets this week, everyone on the street is mindful that there can be further steep losses ahead.

``Considering the strength we had in the past few days, the market is handling itself quite nice and trying to hold on to the gains,'' said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners. ``Investors are also positioning ahead of a barrage of earnings and economic reports due next week.''

Certainly, it was a week of extremes _ the Dow had its biggest two-day percentage gain since October 2002 but it also, on Tuesday, had its first close below 11,000 in two years. And until investors get a more steady stream of good economic and corporate news, such extremes may well continue.

Google fell $52.12, or 9.8 percent, to $481.32 after it posted disappointing results late Thursday. Microsoft dropped $1.66, or 6 percent, to $25.86, while AMD fell 65 cents, or 12.3 percent, to $4.65.

Financial stocks were mixed. Merrill rose 18 cents to $30.91, after its wider-than-expected loss, while Citi added $1.38, or 7.7 percent, to $19.35 after its better-than-anticipated loss.

Honeywell International Inc. fell 20 cents to $50.66 after it reported second-quarter earnings rose 18 percent and surpassed forecasts. The aerospace company also boosted its 2008 forecast.

Mattel Inc. surged $2.38, or 13 percent, to $20.66 after the toymaker said its reported profit was cut in half, but still beat Wall Street expectations.

Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Thursday it will buy rival generic drug company Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. for more than $7 billion, in a move to expand its presence in U.S. and Eastern European markets. Teva rose $1.82, or 4.4 percent, to $42.87, while Barr shot up $6.26, or 11 percent, to $63.43.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.55, or 0.51 percent, to 693.08.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 5.49 billion shares, down from an unusually heavy 7.17 billion on Thursday.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.65 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.70 percent, Germany's DAX index added 1.78 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.74 percent.

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The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 396.03, or 3.57 percent, at 11,496.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 21.19, or 1.71 percent, at 1,260.68. The Nasdaq composite index ended the week up 43.70, or 1.95 percent, at 2,282.78.

The Russell 2000 index finished the week up 18.13, or 2.69 percent, at 693.08.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index _ a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies _ ended Friday at 12,850.50, up 215.07 points, or 1.70 percent, for the week. A year ago, the index was at 15,695.74.

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New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com

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