Updated from 4:41 p.m. ESTCommodities made headway, but stocks in New York wrapped up Friday in mixed territory, with earnings and the effects of the economic slowdown weighing on the Dow, but a buoyant tech sector pulling the Nasdaq higher. Led by an 11% decrease in General Electric ( GE - Get Report), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 45.24 points, or 0.6% at 8077.56. However, the S&P 500 was up 0.18 points, or .002% at 827.68, and the Nasdaq was up 11.80 points, or 0.81%, at 1477.29. For the week, however, the Dow lost 206.66, or 2.5%; the S&P gave up 22.44, or 2.6%; and Nasdaq retreated 52.04, or 3.4%. The market has moved in rollercoaster fashion throughout the holiday-shortened week, often following the lead of bellwether financials. Big names Citi ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC) gained 9.3% and 11.6%, respectively, on Friday, but couldn't pull the Dow into positive territory. "The market has really become susceptible to traders' whims as opposed to investors' actions," says Michael James, managing director Wedbush Morgan Securities. "As traders have become more active in exchange-traded funds, their more aggressive actions have had a snowballing effect on the market direction, exacerbating the magnitude of the moves in both directions." Traditional institutions are less involved in the market, which is creating less liquid markets and more dramatic swings, he says. President Obama and top members of the House and Senate
The president said in a briefing that it is progressing, this time referencing a higher number of potential jobs created -- 3 million to 4 million -- than formerly discussed. Republican opposition has voiced concerns about the plan, but said Friday that it's prepared to act on the President's timetable. Wedbush Morgan's James commented that sentiment is helping to strengthen financials and is also instilling some optimism going into the weekend. People aren't sure what to expect next week as far as potential news on the stimulus plan, expansion of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, or new proposals, which would be positives for the economy and market, he said. Confirmation of a recession on a global basis continued to come in, as Britain's economy shrank 1.5% in the fourth quarter, marking its worst quarter of economic contraction since 1980. That outpaced the 0.6% decrease the quarter prior, according to data released Friday. Financing has been hard to come by, but at least some M&A appears to be cracking the credit freeze. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal,
Pfizer ( PFE)is in talks to acquire competing drugmaker Wyeth ( WYE) in a deal valued at more than $60 billion. That news gave Wyeth shares a 12.6% bump. Also on the rise, Google ( GOOG - Get Report) said after Thursday's close that quarterly profit fell for the first time, but it still surpassed analyst expectations. Google shares added 5.6%, setting a positive tone for the tech sector, but lousy earnings and more layoffs continued to sour the mood elsewhere.
General Electric met expectations with its quarterly figures, but with its net income dropping 44% from a year earlier. The stock fell $1.45 to 12.03. After missing fourth-quarter profit expectations, iconic motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson ( HOG), which missed fourth-quarter profit expectations, announced it will lay off 1,100 workers and close plants. In a case of "more of the same," Japanese automaker Toyota ( TM - Get Report) is considering cutting more than 1,000 full-time jobs in North America and the U.K. to deal with lagging demand, according to a report Friday. Shares edged up 2 pennies to $62.58. Also, German memory-chip maker Qimonda ( QI) declared bankruptcy Friday, a month after receiving a rescue package of millions of euros in loans. Shares plummeted 58%, dwindling to 11 cents. Elsewhere, three analysts lowered their price targets for Capital One Financial Corp. ( COF), a day after the company reported a quarterly loss where Wall Street expected a profit. S&P also cut its credit outlook for Capital One to negative with a further downgrade likely. Shares fell 11.9% to $19.32 on Friday. Xerox ( XRX) was also down, gave up 7.4% to $7.03, on plunging fourth quarter profit and a first-quarter forecast below Wall Street's view. In one bright spot, shares of biotech company Geron ( GERN) were alive and well, rising 36% to $7.09, after the government granted it permission to inject eight to 10 paraplegic patients with cells derived from embryonic stem cells. Turning to commodities, oil prices reversed to gain $2.77 to settle at $46.47, and gold prices continued their ascent, gaining $35.30 to settle at $895.80. The rise in oil comes despite a report by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration Thursday that said oil
inventories in the U.S. soared by 6.1 million barrels last week, well above the expected boost, indicating the continuing drop in demand. The dollar was recently stronger against the euro and the pound and weaker against the yen. Longer-dated Treasuries were on the decline Friday; the 10-year note was recently down 5.5/32 to yield 2.6%, the 30-year was off by 1 09/32, yielding 3.3%. Overseas, the FTSE in London flirted with the flatline, while the DAX in Frankfurt moved lower. Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended with losses.