US stock indexes end week near 2008 highs, Yields on Treasuries drop to Week’s Lows

February 24th, 2012 by

 (February 24th, 2012) US stock indexes had a mixed day on Friday as strong economic data continued to flow in, but uncertainty over rising oil prices tempered the celebrations. The rise of crude oil to more than $109 a barrel offset enthusiasm over better-than-expected consumer confidence and housing numbers.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 75.3 for Feb., topping expectations of 73, but a decline in new-home sales ensured the celebrations were muted. Another sign that the housing market is not out of the woods yet, though headed in the right direction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) failed to clear the psychologically important 13,000 level again despite breaching the barrier during the day’s trading. The DJIA, though lost nearly two points to end the day at 12,982.95, was up about 0.3 percent on the week.

The S&P 500 (SPX) gained 2.28 points, or 0.2 percent, for the day to close the week 0.3 percent higher over the week-ago close at 1,365.74.

The NASDAQ Composite (COMP) added 6.77 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close at 2,963.75, rising 0.4 percent for the week.

Till 3.25 p.m., nearly 417 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange with eight stocks gaining for every seven stocks that fell.

Shares of Salesforce.com (CRM) jumped after the company’s revenue and earnings topped street expectations late Thursday. Customer billings soared 57 percent during the quarter, indicating a robust order book.

Insurance major AIG’s (AIG) stock also jumped after the company’s fourth-quarter profits jumped to $19.8 billion, courtesy an accounting change.

Despite beating earnings expectations, department store chain J.C. Penny (JCP) slipped as sales fell short of expectations for the latest quarter.

A negative outlook for Q1, 2012 ensured shoemaker Crocs (CROX) got hammered in the days trading.

Retailer GAP also slipped after missing fourth quarter sales and earnings estimates. The company however, announced boosting its annual dividends by 11 percent and a $1 billion share buyback program.

Yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell 2 bps, or 0.02 percentage points, to 1.98 percent, a fresh weekly low as the Fed bought $1.93 billion in longer-term securities and concerns over rising oil price hampering growth lingered.

The central bank purchased securities maturing between Feb. 2036 and August 2041 today, a move aimed at replacing $400 billion of shorter-term securities with longer-maturity debt to keep future borrowing costs low under a program it hopes to conclude in June.

According to AAA, price of unleaded regular gasoline jumped 3.5 cents overnight to $3.647 a gallon. Crude prices hit a nine-month high over escalating tensions in the Middle-East with oil futures (CLJ2) rising $1.94 to $109.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold futures for April delivery dropped by $9.90 an ounce to $1,776.40.

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