Wall St. manages to extend rally

The Associated PressApril 18, 2009 

— Wall Street found enough in the latest earnings reports to keep its six-week rally alive.

Stocks ended another winning week with a slender advance Friday as earnings from Citigroup and General Electric came in ahead of the market's meager expectations.

The numbers weren't great by normal standards but were good enough to extend a rally that began in early March on signs that the economy might be finding some stability. Citigroup was the fourth bank in a week with news that pointed toward a budding recovery in the industry. But the company, echoing comments from JPMorgan Chase on Thursday, also said loan losses are expected to continue in the months ahead.

GE, meanwhile, said its first-quarter earnings dropped 36 percent as sales and profits shrank at its GE Capital financial division. The stock edged up 1 percent.

Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capitol Securities Management, said the results placated investors. "If these companies didn't meet or exceed these expectations, we would have gotten killed," he said.

Wall Street showed resilience in the first big week of first-quarter earnings reports, weathering disappointments from chip maker Intel and Google. While investors weren't happy with Friday's news, they weren't caving to uncertainty as they did the first two months of the year, when heavy selling brought the major indexes to 12-year lows.

"I think most people realize there are still causes for concern, but maybe not causes for panic," said Carl Beck, a partner at Harris Financial Group, a Colonial Heights, Va.-based investment advisory firm.

Stocks fluctuated for much of Friday to end with slight gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.90, or 0.1 percent, to 8,131.33.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 4.30, or 0.5 percent, to 869.60, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 2.63, or 0.2 percent, to 1,673.07.

For the week, the Dow is up 48 points, or 0.6 percent, giving the average six straight up weeks. That's the longest streak since it rose for seven straight weeks in the period that ended May 18, 2007.

The S&P 500 index gained 1.5 percent for the week. The Nasdaq was up 1.2 percent for the week; it is up 6 percent for the year.

Wall Street's rally began in early March after Citigroup reported it had operated at a profit during the first two months of the year. A string of more upbeat economic and earnings data gave the rally momentum, but, as often happens during earnings season, the market has stumbled when companies have unsettling news.

With the bulk of first-quarter reports still to come in the next two weeks, the market is likely to see some turbulence as investors try to assess company by company how the overall economy is doing.

The Dow and the S&P 500 index are at their highest levels in more than two months and the Nasdaq is at its high for the year.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.0 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 1.5 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.7 percent.

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