Seeking Alpha
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks clung to modest late-afternoon gains, closing higher and allowing the major averages to log their sixth consecutive winning week. It's the best streak since May 2007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes up 0.6% for the week and finishes at a two-month high. The S&P 500 is up 1.5% this week.

Stocks traded in choppy fashion earlier in the session as Wall Street couldn't get much traction after a mixed read on the economy and corporate balance sheets.

U.S. consumer sentiment improved in April, but still remained relatively poor, according to a survey released by the University of Michigan and Reuters. The consumer sentiment index rose to 61.9 from 57.3 in March, boosted by higher stock prices and hopes that the worst of the recession may be soon past. Economists were looking for an increase to 59.0. The index hit a 28-year low of 55.3 in November.

Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE:GE) failed to excite investors after reporting that its first-quarter earnings fell 36 percent, hurt by waning sales and a sharply lower profit at its ailing finance arm, GE Capital. But the results exceeded Wall Street's forecasts. GE closed up about 1%.

Also, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares are trading in a narrow range after its better-than-expected first-quarter earnings report was tempered by a cautious outlook for the current period.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) shares gained initially but turned lower as the session progressed. The broader financial space gained today.

C said its first-quarter loss narrowed to $966 million, or 18 cents per share, from $5.19 billion, or $1.03, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 30 cents per share.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) shares are flat after Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said in an update on its turnaround plan that the automaker would be forced to cut an unspecified number of jobs as part of its restructuring, and that the company was sticking with its four-brand strategy.

Henderson also said that it was "still feasible" to complete its turnaround outside of bankruptcy and that any word of additional federal funding was "premature." He added that the timetable on bond exchanges is "as soon as possible."

4:12 PM, Apr 17, 2009 -- NYSE up 26 (+0.5%) to 5,480.32

DJIA up 5.9 (0.1%) to 8,131.33

S&P 500 up 4.3 (0.5%) to 869.60

Nasdaq up 2.6 (0.2%) to 1,673.07

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei +1.7%

Hang Seng +0.1%

FTSE +1.0%

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) BIIB says sales of its MS drug disappointed in Q1.

(-) ELY guides for first-quarter below Street.

(-) C reports smaller-than-expected quarterly loss.

(-) PALM gets analyst downgrade.

(-) PETM gets analyst downgrade.

(-) SOHU gets analyst downgrade.

(-) MGM on report Carl Icahn is pushing for bankruptcy

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) LOW added to conviction buy list at Goldman.

(+) GOOG beat with results but reported first sequential revenue
decline.

(+) GE beats by a nickel with EPS as revenue misses.

(+) MAT reports Q1 loss that's a penny deeper than Street view.

(+) DRYS raises funds in offering.

Source: Closing Update: Streak Stretches Six