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Closing Update: Stocks Put Up Back-To-Back Gains But Nasdaq's 2.7% Drop Leads Weekly Declines

 March 18, 2011 04:19 PM

-NYSE up 51.16 (+0.6%) to 8,116.02 -DJIA up 83.93 (+0.7%) to 11,859

-S&P 500 up 5.48 (+0.43%) to 1,279

-Nasdaq up 7.62 (+0.3%) to 2,644


Hang Seng up 0.07%

Nikkei up 2.72%

FTSE up 0.64%


(-) NKE continues evening decline that followed earnings miss.

(-) AN downgraded.

(-) AEO downgraded.


(+) LO down as FDA weighs restrictions on menthol cigarettes.

(+) EL reaffirms earnings guidance that's below Street view.

(+) CRA sold to Quest Diagnostics for $8 a share.

(+) F initiated with Buy rating.

(+) RIMM initiated with Buy rating.

(+) GE finding some traction after early-week post-quake drop.


Stock averages end firmer though in the middle to lower end of the day's range. Weekly losses follow Japan's earthquake, one week ago today, and its nuclear aftermath. The Nasdaq ends down 2.7%; the S&P off 1.9%; the DJIA also lower.

Reports of the government's call for a ceasefire in Libya, gains for U.S. banking shares amid revived dividends and global help to cool the Japanese yen combined to lift stocks Friday. Stocks did give back some of their earlier gains in afternoon trading shortly after President Obama said the U.S. and some of its allies were prepared to launch military action in Libya if the fighting there doesn't cease.

Markets moved higher early on in response to Group of Seven action to curb a surging yen though Japan's nuclear risks remain in focus and the situation is still volatile. There were no U.S. economic reports scheduled.

Light, sweet crude oil for April delivery finished down 0.4%, or $0.35 to $101.07 a barrel. In other energy futures, heating oil was down 1.33% to $3.02 a gallon while natural gas was down 0.02% to $4.15 per million British thermal units. Meanwhile, gold futures rose on safe-haven investing despite positive developments in Libya. Gold for April delivery finished up 0.9% to $1,416.10 an ounce. In other metal futures, silver was up $2.43 to $35.09 a troy ounce while copper traded up 0.08% to $4.34.

The U.S. dollar index (DXY) is down 0.48% to $75.67.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM), Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) and other major U.S. banks plan to boost their dividend payments after passing stress tests evaluated by the Federal Reserve, they announced today.

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