Skip to main content

Stocks on Wall Street Eke Out Gains

Stocks in New York closed slightly higher Friday as investors dissected quarterly reports from Citigroup and General Electric.

Updated from 4:24 p.m. EDT

Stocks in New York edged higher Friday and closed just above the flat line as investors dissected quarterly reports from




General Electric




Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 5.90 points, or 0.07%, to 8131.33, while the

S&P 500

gained 4.30 points, or 0.5%, to 869.60. The


added 2.63 points, or 0.2%, to 1673.07.

For the week, the Dow gained 0.6%, the S&P 500 advanced 1.5%, and the Nasdaq added 1.2%, marking the sixth consecutive week of advances.

Technology stocks and

General Motors


, for which

bankruptcy is now "probable"


according to its CEO, were among the biggest drags on

the Dow


Image placeholder title

Citi was the worst, losing almost 9% to $3.65, while

American Express


was the strongest performer, rising 5.4% to $21.81.

The S&P 500 financial services index was up 17% for March, says Anu Sharma, managing director of the Market Intelligence Desk at Nasdaq OMX, but at the same time short interest on that index increased 58%.

"The money going into it wasn't short covering, it was real money," says Sharma. "So you're seeing two drastically different sentiments set up, and there's a big bet one way or the other. What will be interesting is if the longs are right and this huge short position taken in March has to be covered, which could propel financial services even more."

All of the major banks that have reported or offered preliminarily looks at their results thus far --

Wells Fargo



Goldman Sachs


, JP Morgan and Citi -- have surpassed expectations, but Wall Street wasn't expecting much.

For its part,


reported a narrower-than-expected loss of 18 cents a share. The loss came after the bank converted preferred stock issued last year into common shares.

Bank of America


will be the next big bank to report its results on Monday.

General Electric

also topped estimates despite a 9% decline in sales and a 35% drop in earnings from continuing operations. The company's financing unit, GE Capital, benefited from a $1.2 billion tax break that offset a $153 million pretax loss. Shares rose 1% to $12.39.

Late Thursday,



beat estimates, as well, but it also reported its first ever sequential quarterly sales decline. Shares climbed 0.9% to $392.24.

A peppering of better-than-expected results haven't put a lid on prospective job losses, however. Most recently, after posting a first-quarter loss,






joint venture

Sony Ericsson

said that it will cut 2,000 jobs. Those stocks were up 4.7% and 1.8%, respectively.

Earlier in the week, Swiss banking giant



estimated it will reduce headcount

by 8,700 in 2010, and media reports said



is readying itself for a significant round of

job cuts

, as well.

One stock on the move,



jumped 29.2% to $7.17 a day after it completed a $500 million equity


. Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to outperform from perform on Friday on the premise that it won't see much more dilution after the offering.

Taking a look at commodities, oil rose 35 cents to settle at $50.98 a barrel, while gold fell $11.90 to $867.90 an ounce.

Longer-dated Treasuries were dropping. The 10-year was giving up 31/32 to yield 3%, while the 30-year was losing 1-13/32, yielding 3.8%. The dollar was stronger vs. the pound and euro, but weaker against the yen. Ratings, recently cited for Best Stock Selection from October 2007 through February 2009 , is an independent research provider that combines fundamental and technical analysis to offer investors tremendous value in volatile times. To see how your portfolio can use this research, click here now!