Wall St up on tech results, on track for weekly rise

Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Friday, with technology shares leading the gains on strong results, though the market's rally appeared to be running out of steam with indexes near all-time highs.

The S&P 500 has gained 23 percent so far this year, just shy of the 23.5 percent jump it posted in 2009. Surpassing the 2009 record would give the index its biggest annual gain in a decade. The benchmark is also on track for its third-straight week of gains.

Microsoft Corp (NSQ:MSFT - News) was the leading point gainer on the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 as profit and revenue reported late Thursday exceeded expectations, sending shares up 5.9 percent to $35.72. Amazon.com (NSQ:AMZN - News) posted its largest daily gain since April 2012 after the online retailer reported stronger-than-expected sales growth. Shares jumped 9.6 percent to $364.16 after hitting a record high of $368.40.

"We've been positive on Microsoft for a while, but I can't remember the last time I saw it move up this much after earnings. It is very positive, and helping to boost the overall tape today," said Douglas DePietro, managing director at Evercore Partners in New York.

"Still, the market has been getting tired lately. While I believe we'll see another leg up soon, it isn't out of the question that we would need to consolidate near all-time highs."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 20.21 points, or 0.13 percent, at 15,529.42. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.75 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,754.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 7.56 points, or 0.19 percent, at 3,936.52.

For the week thus far, the Dow is up 0.9 percent, the S&P is up 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq is up 0.7 percent. It is the third straight week of gains for both the Dow and S&P, while the Nasdaq has climbed in seven of the past eight weeks, up almost 10 percent over that period.

Much of those gains have come on expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue its $85 billion a month bond-purchase program for several months, likely providing a floor for stock prices into 2014.

Among other earnings, United Parcel Service's (NYS:UPS - News) stock hit a record high at $96.94 after posting a bigger quarterly profit and said it expects online sales to boost holiday volume. Shares came off highs and were up 0.6 percent to $95.12.

Zynga (ZNGA.O) said it expects a full-year profit after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results due to cost-cutting and a renewed focus on mobile games and core franchises. Shares jumped 11 percent to $3.93.

With 49 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, 68.7 percent have topped profit expectations, a beat rate that is above the historical average of 63 percent. However, only 54.2 percent have beaten revenue expectations, below the long-term average of 61 percent.

Dow component DuPont (NYS:DD - News) jumped to the highest in more than 13 years a day after announcing it will spin off its titanium dioxide unit within 18 months, yielding to pressure from Wall Street to divest the volatile business. Shares hit $62.69 and were recently up 0.3 percent at $61.54.

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods outside of transportation equipment fell in September, possibly due to uncertainty over government spending, while a surge in aircraft orders helped boost durable goods orders by 3.7 percent last month, more than expected.

U.S. consumer sentiment dropped in October to its lowest level since the end of last year as consumers worried congressional dysfunction and the resulting partial federal government shutdown would hurt growth.

In other data the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in August, the biggest increase since January. The government also said inventories rose more than initially estimated in July.

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