Skip to main content



) -- Stocks closed to the upside Friday, lifted by economic data and promising earnings from


(DE) - Get Free Report

, and buoyed by the

Federal Reserve's

minutes from its most recent policy-making meeting.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

added 40 points, or 0.4%, to 10,309. The

S&P 500

rose 5 points, or 0.4%, to 1100 and the


gained 12 points, or 0.6%, to 2226.

After the closing bell,


(HPQ) - Get Free Report

said rising computer and server revenue helped boost overall first-quarter sales to $31.2 billion. The PC manufacturer also earned $1.10 per share, beating forecasts on both fronts. Hewlett-Packard shares, which added 1.4% during the afternoon session, were moving higher immediately after the news in extended-hours trading.

>>Five Large-Cap Stocks Poised to Grow

Minutes from the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee's late-January meeting showed members discussed monetary policy actions and debated its asset sales strategy. Market observers were interested in the explanation of the lone dissenter in the FOMC statement. Thomas Hoenig, President of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, objected to saying the Fed would keep rates low for an "extended period." Minutes, however, showed Hoenig wanted the statemen't language to say the fed funds rate to remain "low for some time," indicating he is not as interested in raising rates as some feared.

"I think people were concerned that Hoenig was going to take a much more hawkish stance," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at "But it's clear he's just raising warning signs."

"The market was kind of relieved by that," Roberts added.

Before the statement's release, Jay Suskind, senior vice president at Duncan Williams, believed the minutes would only significantly impact markets if there seemed to be more than one member disagreeing with the committee's decision.

"We recently had Bernanke saying that a change of policy will be coming, so unless we get a sense from the narrative that a change in policy will be more drastic than expected or may come sooner than expected, I expect markets to take it in stride," he said.

The morning session brought an influx of economic releases starting with the Census Bureau's report that January

housing starts rose 2.8% to 591,000, which was better than the 580,000 starts that economists had been anticipating. January building permits, meanwhile, slipped 4.9% to 621,000, but still came in 1,000 permits ahead of what economists had projected.

The Labor Department said January import prices jumped 1.4%, from 0.2%, previously, and export prices increased 0.8%, from a 0.6% uptick in December.

Rounding out the morning's releases, the Fed said

industrial production rose 0.9% in January, exceeding economists' expectations for a 0.8% increase. Capacity utilization came in as projected, at 72.6%.

"If you take all of today's macroeconomic data as an aggregate, it was pretty good. There were no real disappointments, and even the revisions were all positive. As a result, you're not seeing a selloff from

Tuesday's rally, which some people were nervous about, and that's a healthy sign," Suskind said.

The Treasury Department also released its January federal budget report in the afternoon, showing the deficit narrowed to $42.6 billion vs. the $46 billion deficit forecast by the Street.

Also improving the market's mood,


(DE) - Get Free Report

blew past profit estimates and said it expects higher equipment sales. The stock added $2.70, or 5%, to $56.48.

Late Tuesday,

Whole Foods

( WFMI) said first-quarter profit surged 79%, prompting the company to raise its earnings guidance for the year. Its stock traded 12.6%, or $3.83 higher, at $34.35.

Dutch financial services provider

ING Group

(ING) - Get Free Report

narrowed its fourth-quarter loss.

Late Wednesday,

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Free Report

said a sales surge in its semiconductor equipment segment helped the firm post a first-quarter profit in-line with expectations. Graphics chip manufacturer


(NVDA) - Get Free Report

said revenue surged and earnings beat forecasts, though shares sold off sharply in after-hours trading.


(C) - Get Free Report

was seeing the heaviest trading on the

New York Stock Exchange

and the stock added 3%, to $3.41. Recent reports show that hedge-fund heavyweights have been increasing their stakes in the bank.

Shares of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Free Report


Ford Motor

(F) - Get Free Report

also saw high trading volumes on the


, which had a listed volume of 4.3 billion. The


saw volume of 192.3 million, compared with an average volume of 200 million.

In other news,



said it picked up the New York-based drugstore chain Duane Reade for $1.08 billion. Its stock finished 0.3% higher to $34.19.


(TM) - Get Free Report

is considering a recall of its Corolla subcompact car because of possible power-steering problems.



director Ron Burkle wants to devote more time to his other business interests, according to a press release, and won't seek re-election to the company's board.

Campbell Soup

(CPB) - Get Free Report

cut its 2010 sales guidance to 2.5% to 3.5%, down from 4% to 5%. The company's earnings guidance, however, remained unchanged.

Late afternoon crude oil figures showed a surprising, though mild, drawdown. The American Petroleum Institute said crude stockpiles declined 63,000 barrels last week, according to MarketWatch, well off forecasts provided by Platts calling for a 1.65 million barrel rise. Gasoline stockpiles jumped 1.43 million barrels, while distillate inventories saw a 1.28 million barrel buildup. Projections called for a 1.5 million barrel uptick in gasoline supplies. Distillates stocks, meanwhile, were projected to decline by 1.6 million barrels.

Crude oil for March delivery traded 32 cents higher to settle at $77.33 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the most actively traded April

gold contract gained $3 to settle at $1,120.10 an ounce.

The greenback rose against a basket of currencies, with the

dollar index up by 1%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury weakened 20/32, lifting the yield to 3.738%.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng market was closed for the Lunar New Year and Japan's Nikkei gained 3%. The FTSE in London was up 0.6% and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 1%.

-- Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York