- Dow Jones Industrial Average up 93.24 (+0.75%) to 12,554.20
- S&P 500 up 10.67 (+0.81%) to 1,325.66
- Nasdaq Composite Index 27.40 (+0.97%) to 2,858.42
- Hang Seng Index down 0.94%
- Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.51%
- FTSE 100 down 0.24%
The U.S. markets closed higher Friday, capping their best week of 2012 following Wednesday's out-sized gains. Stocks began moving higher after President Obama spoke mid-morning, urging European leaders work faster to resolve the Spanish banking crisis and warned an exit by Greece from the single euro currency would spark more problems. He also urged Congress to do more to bolster U.S. jobs growth.
Energy was the lone sector among the 10 industries tracked by the S&P 500 to post a decline with crude oil again settling lower. Financial stocks led the markets higher, closely trailed by shares of consumer and technology companies.
In economic news, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade gap narrowed during April to $50.1 billion. Exports fell 0.8% in April following a 2.5% rise in March while imports also fell, shrinking 1.7% after 5.2% gain in March. Analysts, on average, expected the trade deficit falling to $49.3 billion.
A second Commerce Department report today showed wholesale inventories rose a greater-than-expected 0.6% in April to a record $483.5 billion. Business inventories added only 0.21 percentage points to economic growth in the first quarter, but Friday's figure was seen as possibly contributing to slightly strong Q2 growth.
In company news, Centene (CNC) and Molina (MOH) shares finished with big gains, with MOH rising over 26% after the firms regained Medicaid managed-care provider contracts only two months after state officials in Ohio canceled those contracts.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services upheld MOH's protest that followed the company being dropped April 9 as a Medicaid provider, cutting nearly $1 billion in premium revenues from its annual $4.6 billion revenue stream. CNC shares closed nearly 8% higher after its Buckeye Community Health Plan was selected as one of five health plans to serve Medicaid patient in the state, effective January 2013.
In reinstating both companies, the state department acknowledged flaws in its scoring system to determine contract awards, also resulting in Aetna (AET) Better Health and Meridian Health Plan being dropped after winning contracts in April.
OCC, New Q2 sales record, nearing 52-week high.
CTFO, Signs merger agreement with TransCloud Company Ltd
CORT, Credit Suisse initiates coverage with Outperform rating.
PCX, Coal miners selling off after Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) shuts 6 mines.
THO, Q3 earnings of $0.78 a share trail Street estimates by $0.01.