U.S. stock markets have resumed a Friday winning streak. The major indexes moved higher again today after last Friday's losses-- the only one so far this year. The DJIA rose 0.63% to 14,512, the S&P 500 rose 0.72% to 1,557, and the Nasdaq rose 0.70% to 3,245.
There were no major economic reports out today, so traders may have been taking their cues from Cyprus. The country's lawmakers are now working feverishly to meet a Monday deadline. That's when the European Central Bank says it will stop emergency funding unless the country comes up with a viable plan for a bailout. Cyprus had been hoping Russia would extend it a lifeline, but talks ended without a rescue.
Darden Restaurants (DRI) looked surprisingly appetizing to investors today. Shares rose 1.3% despite a lackluster earnings report released before the opening bell. Darden says its earned $1.02 per share, 1-cent better than estimates. But the company cut its outlook last month. The chain says its diluted net earnings are down 18% from a year ago. Sales were down 6% at Red Lobster. They were up fractionally at Olive Garden, where last month they had been down almost 10%. Darden is blaming a variety of factors for the report including higher gas prices, higher payroll taxes and bad weather.
Tiffany (TIF) got some of its sparkle back today. The stock rose 2% after the company released its earnings for the end of the fiscal year. The luxury-goods retailer says it earned $1.40 per share. That's 5-cents above estimates. Tiffany also says is expects sales for the coming year to be up as much as 8%. The company previously warned that the weakening Yen hurt its bottom line, as have smaller margins on silver products.
Nike (NKE) shares climbed 11% following the release of quarterly earnings after yesterday's closing bell. The company had a host of impressive numbers. They include earnings per share of 73-cents, up from 61-cents a year ago. Future orders for March are up 6% from a year ago, and revenues are up 9%. The company noted weakening demand in China and Japan but said it was offset by strong business in Europe and emerging markets. Citigroup has now upped its price target for the company.
Shares of BP (BP) climbed 2.7% after announcing an $8 billion share buyback program to be completed within the next 18 months. The announcement follows the sale of its stake in TNK-BP to Russia's Rosneft. Analysts had expected a share buy back, but not one this big.
An early bounce for BlackBerry (BBRY) shares fizzled. The stock closed down 7.7%. Today's the day the z10 went on sale in the U.S. The device is now available at AT&T (T) stores, and will be available from Verizon (VZ) next week. Many are calling the device BlackBerry's last chance at survival. BlackBerry shares are up more than 25% this year on hopes for the Blackberry 10, and trading volumes have been extremely high. Still, shares are well short of their all-time high back in 2008 when they were roughly $130 apiece.
Finally, Monster Beverage (MNST) seems to have spooked investors. It fell more than 3.6% today. The American Heart Association has issued a report saying energy drinks do in fact appear to increase blood pressure and disturb the heart's rhythm. Monster has recently decided to market its banner product as a beverage rather than a dietary supplement to sidestep federal regulations. Shares are well off their 52-week highs which they hit at the end of last April.
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