NEW YORK (
) -- Stocks finished higher Friday, capping a strong week, on promising earnings reports and news that the economy grew faster than previously thought in the fourth quarter.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 49 points, or 0.4%, to close at 12,220. The
climbed by nearly 4 points, or 0.3%, to close at 1314, and the
finished ahead by 6 points, 0.2%, at 2743.
Stocks gained in four of the five trading sessions this week, as investors focused on domestic earnings and economic reports even as global concerns were unabated. The Dow rose 3% over the week. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 2.7% and 3.7% respectively.
In its third and final estimate on fourth-quarter 2010 gross domestic product, the U.S. Department of Commerce said that the
economy expanded by 3.1%. Economists had been anticipating an upward revision to 2.9% from its previous estimate of 2.8%. That compares with growth of 2.6% in the third quarter.
Promising earnings reports also gave stocks a lift.
shares gained 1.5% to $32.64 after the company reported better-than-expected earnings Thursday and lifted its quarterly dividend by 20%.
Consulting services company
posted a strong second-quarter profit, raised its outlook and announced a semiannual cash dividend of 45 cents a share. The stock rose 4.5% at $54.29.
Research In Motion
issued a disappointing outlook Thursday. Shares shed 11.3% at $56.86.
Energy stocks led the markets higher on Friday with
topping the Dow along with
Bank of America
Investors shrugged off a disappointing reading on consumer sentiment. The University of Michigan revised downward its final reading on March consumer sentiment to 67.5, from 68.2. Wall Street had been expecting a downward revision to 68, according to
. March's level compares with a reading of 77.5 in February.
Stocks are up for the sixth day in seven sessions, helping to recoup some of the losses sustained in the immediate wake of the Japan earthquake. While global concerns in Europe, Japan and the Middle East have not subsided, stocks have managed to climb that wall of worry. Still, volumes have been low as investors remain wary of global concerns and await a fresh catalyst for equities.
"The market is going through an intermission now," according to Linda Duessel, market strategist at Federated Investors. "It is going to be several weeks before we get news on earnings. We are in a dead zone, where the worst news we got came already from Japan and the Middle East."
Duessel says that while investors are worried about inflation and the impact of higher food and energy prices on the wallet, she expects a recovery in jobs will likely offset those concerns. "It all gets trumped by jobs. But it will take several months for the market to be convinced of a recovery in the job market."
Global stocks strengthened Thursday, although headlines remained troubling. Japan's nuclear regulator said that the
No. 3 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant could be cracked and leaking radiation. Shares of
Japanese automakers began climbing back after steep losses in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Standard & Poor's downgraded its long-term credit rating on Portugal to BBB from A- after the country's austerity plan was rejected. Portugal's short-term credit rating remains at A-2 but is on CreditWatch with negative implications, the agency said.
In Libya, Western warplanes hit Libyan ground forces at a key town and
NATO is preparing to assume full control of the no-fly zone over Libya.
Japan's Nikkei rose 1.1% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng also gained 1.1%. London's FTSE closed higher by 0.3%, while the DAX in Frankfurt inched up 0.2%.
In other stock news, shares of
rose 2.3% to $127.03 after it announced on Thursday a
partnership with online poker giant PokerStars to push the legalization of Internet gaming in the U.S. As part of the agreement, the two companies plan to run a site called PokerStarsWynn.com, should legislation pass.
fell after the company
offered a cautious outlook on demand, saying Americans were reluctant to eat out without promotional offers and deals to entice them. The stock dropped 4.9% to $45.63.
Bristol Myers Squibb
were among the leaders on the S&P 500.
In commodity markets, the May
shed 20 cents to settle at $105.40 a barrel. The April
shed $8.7 to settle at $1,426.30 an ounce.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 10/32, raising the yield to 3.442%. The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.7%. The euro was weaker against the dollar, down 0.7%.
--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.