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4:34 PM, Apr 23, 2010 --

  • NYSE up 56 (0.7%) to 7,699.35.
  • DJIA up 69.8 (0.6%) to 11,204.
  • S&P 500 down 0.07 (0.01%) to 1,208.60.
  • Nasdaq up 11 (0.4%) to 2,530.


GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng down 0.98%
  • Nikkei down 0.32%
  • FTSE up 1.03%


UPSIDE MOVERS


(+) MBTF swings to profit.

(+) YGE upgraded.

(+) EMN weighing options for PET business.

(+) ERIC impresses with margins.

(+) XRX beats with Q1 and guides higher.

(+) SLB beats with Q1.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS


(-) MSFT disappoints with some results.

(-) TRV disappoints with results; hikes dividend.

(-) AMZN disappoints with results.

(-) EXC misses with sales.

(-) ACUR continues evening plunge that followed unfavorable FDA panel ruling on pain drug.

(-) BWLD downgraded.

(-) TASR beats with revenue.

MARKET DIRECTION

The major averages end near their best levels of the session and are up for the week, marking the eighth weekly advance for the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average, the longest such streak since 2003-2004.

Merck (NYSE:MRK) led the gains on the Dow after remarks that eased investor concerns about the impact of healhcare reform on its bottom line. American Express (NYSE:AXP) was another leading gainer after its results. Energy shares also gained.

Stocks surged after an upbeat, mid-morning report on new home sales, then pared those gains around mid-session before a late move left the major averages near the high for the day as the final bell rang.

The major indexes made their morning move after March new home sales surged 27% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000, much stronger than the 335,000 expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. It was the largest percentage gain in sales since April 1963, the government said. It was the highest sales pace since July.

Most earnings from the big bellwether companies have been in-line or ahead of the Street and a number of key companies have lifted their guidance looking forward, but as a growing number of stocks hit 52-week highs, the market is becoming a battle of inches.

Schlumberger's (NYSE:SLB) Q1 earnings and upbeat outlook put its stock in the 52-Week High club this morning along with Eastman Chemical (NYSE:EMN), Xerox (NYSE:XRX) and Dover (NYSE:DOV). All are riding Street beats and higher guidance. But Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) disappointed, despited a 35% jump in earnings.

Microsoft's earnings fell short of other technology companies that reflected a surge in corporate spending on hardware and software. Microsoft is down fractionally in choppy early trading. Travelers (NYSE:TRV) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) also disappointed with at least portions of their latest results.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is slumping at mid-day and near the low end of its range, down 1.43%, after a Goldman Sachs downgrade post-bell yesterday prompted by the company's disappointing Q1 results.

Stocks got some lift out of Europe after those markets rallied on news that Greek officials are tapping a $53.37 billion rescue package from the 15 euro countries and the International Monetary Fund. That reversed sentiment from an earlier report that the nation's deficit last year was worse than initially claimed.

The fragile recovery has been the focus of concern for most of the year, and investors have hung on every new report on the economy's health. The latest report on durable goods sent mixed signals.

New orders dropped 1.3% in March driven largely by a sharp decline in commercial aircraft orders. Economists were looking for a 0.3% increase, according to a Thomson Reuters poll. New orders for goods that are expected to last at least three years rose 2.8% last month. Economists were looking for a 0.7% increase.

Source: Stocks Close Higher for Day and Week