3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • General Mills (GIS) will spend $8 billion to buy natural pet food player Blue Buffalo (BUFF) .
  • For the week the Dow rose 0.36%, the S&P 500 gained 0.55% and the Nasdaq jumped 1.35%.
  • Over the past nine weeks through last week, Wall Street analysts have lifted their 2018 profit estimates for S&P 500 companies by 7.7%, points out Yardeni Research.

Market Snapshot

U.S. stocks posted solid gains on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just more than 90 points in the opening hour of trading, taking it to just over the 25,000 point mark by 10 a.m. ET, around 200 points from clawing back this week's loss. The early advance was led by Intel Corp. (INTC) ,  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)  and IBM Corp. (IBM)  .

The Dow finished up 347 points, or 1.4%.

The broader S&P 500 was also on the rise, gaining 43 points, or 1.6%. The index was led by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE)  whose shares jumped 10% on Friday after the IT services group on Thursday posted much stronger-than-expected earnings for its fiscal first quarter and issued a robust outlook, including hefty dividends, under new CEO Antonoi Neri.

The Nasdaq Composite also ended the week on the upside, with Friday's 127 point gain putting the tech-heavy benchmark 1.77% higher on the day.

Retail stocks jumped after a report that Nordstrom (JWN) could soon be taken private. Nordstrom jumped 6.5%. Sears Holdings Corp.  (SHLD) gained 4%, Macy's (M) jumped 2% and J.C. Penney (JCP) rose 3.3%.

More broadly, the sustained 8-week rise in U.S. government bond yields, which has taken 10-year notes from 2.4% at the start of the year to 2.91% in overnight Asia trading, is the longest bear market since 1994, according to Bloomberg data, and continues to entice portfolio managers to consider allocating funds to fixed income investments in order to lower risk and generate returns.

On 'Jolt', TheStreet talks about one thing that could spook the markets in March. Watch below.

Friday's easing of Treasury yields, which took benchmark 10-year notes to around 2.87%, helped blunt the elevated levels of the CBOE Volatility Index. Better-known as the VIX, the index was 1.5% lower at 18.48 points after starting the week at around 21.3 points.

That said, comments Thursday from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who told CNBC Television that the markets might be getting ahead of themselves in assuming four rate hikes this year, as well as dovish minutes from the European Central Bank's January policy meeting, allowed stocks in Asia to extend gains seen on Wall Street Thursday, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan benchmark rising 1.05% into the close of trading and Japan's Nikkei 225 ending the week with a 0.72% gain to close at 21,892.78 points.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 benchmark, the region's broadest measure of share prices, was little-changed at 380.29 points while Britain's FTSE 100 was marked 0.3% to the downside following disappointing market reaction to earnings from state-owned lender RBS plc (RBS) and British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAGY) .

Global oil markets were also active, although Thursday's mixed set of data from the Energy Information Administration, which showed domestic crude inventories falling by 1.2 million barrels and U.S. crude exports rising to a near record 2 million barrels per day last week allowed for a broadly stable market in Friday trading.