Updated from 10:00 a.m. EDT
Stocks in the U.S. were struggling to find their footing Friday after consumer-sentiment numbers tapped a 26-year low and investors digested another mixed bag of earnings reports.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose out of the gate, but was recently shedding 3 points to 12,846. The
ticked up 2 points to 1390. The
, dragged lower by
disappointing near-term guidance, was sliding 17 points to 2412.
Blue chips lost steam after the University of Michigan put U.S. consumer confidence at 62.6 in April, a dismal level not seen since the early 1980s. That's roughly a half-point lower than the preliminary reading, and comes in 7 points lower than March. The survey found that 9 out of 10 American consumers believe the U.S. is already in recession.
After that, the dollar began backpedaling from stronger early gains against the euro, recently firming by just 0.4% at $1.5624. Against the yen, the greenback was up marginally at 104.36.
As for corporate news, Microsoft shares sagged 5.6% after the software giant offered soft guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, even as it projected more robust numbers for fiscal 2009 and bested last quarter's analyst targets.
Similarly, disk-drive maker
beat top- and bottom-line analyst views for the fiscal third quarter, and issued fourth-quarter profit guidance of 77 cents to 83 cents a share. Wall Street is looking for 80 cents. The company said a bigger-than-expected decline in demand for its products should weigh on current-quarter sales. Shares were tumbling 7.7%.
On a brighter note,
gave support to the Dow after its first-quarter profit drop wasn't as steep as analysts were expecting, thanks to its international presence. The credit-card company also reaffirmed its above-consensus view for the full year. Shares climbed 3.1%.
was also having a good day, lately climbing 5.8%, after the tire maker reported swinging to a profit on a "record" top line of $4.9 billion. The company also trounced Street profit views on an adjusted basis.
In the last session, the major averages closed on an upswing, in spite of some poor earnings, thanks to a surging greenback and cooling crude oil prices. At the end of the day, the Dow rose 86 points to 12,849, and the S&P 500 added 9 points to 1389. The Nasdaq climbed 24 points to 2429.
Among the new day's research calls,
was upgraded to buy from neutral at Merrill Lynch, while
was downgraded at JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Merrill a day after the automaker's earnings-inspired rally.
Oppenheimer initiated three ethanol stocks,
( VSE) and
Aventine Renewable Energy
( AVR), with perform ratings, and Citigroup upgraded China-based Internet stocks
to buy from hold.
Commodities prices were stemming some of the previous session's losses. Crude oil added $1.61 to $117.67 a barrel, and gold futures advanced $5.30 to $892.10.
Treasury prices were taking a hit. The 10-year note lost 12/32 in price to yield 3.87%, and the 30-year bond lost 23/32 in price, yielding 4.59%.
Overseas markets were mixed. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.4% overnight,and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong declined 0.6%. As for European bourses, the FTSE 100 in London was down by a fraction. Germany's Xetra Dax and the Paris Cac climbed about 1.2% each.
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