Stock market has its best week of the year; retailers climb, led by Ross Stores

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The stock market closed out its best week of the year Friday as big gains by retailers and technology companies pushed major indexes upward.

Stocks faded as Friday wore on, but they still finished higher. The S&P 500 index climbed almost 3.3 per cent this week. By just a hair, that was its biggest weekly gain in 2015.

Stocks climbed Monday and Wednesday as the U.S. market didn’t seem to be affected by a string of unsettling international events, including last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris. Instead, investors responded to signs the U.S. economy remains strong.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91.06 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 17,823.81. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 7.93 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,089.17. The Nasdaq composite index gained 31.28 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5,104.92. The Dow turned positive for the year by a fraction of a point.

“Throughout the week we got more and more news that the Federal Reserve was assessing the economy favourably,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Davidson said investors have slowly gotten used to the idea that the Federal Reserve is going to raise interest rates. That prospect worried them greatly a few months ago, but now, stocks are rising because investors are taking heart that the Fed believes the economy is on solid footing. Meanwhile, new economic stimulus in Europe could strengthen the global economy.

Retailers rallied after solid earnings reports from discount chain Ross Stores and footwear seller Foot Locker. Retail stocks got pummeled this month after weak reports from Macy’s and Nordstrom caused investors to worry that the holiday shopping season would be a bust. But some retailers are doing well.

Ken Perkins, president of the research firm Retail Metrics, said shoppers are looking for discounts and turning to lower-priced retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross Stores and to “fast fashion” retailers who keep up with the latest trends.

“All that doesn’t bode well for mall-based retailers,” Perkins said.

Ross Stores gained $4.64, or 10 per cent, to $50.84 while Foot Locker rose $3.49, or 5.7 per cent, to $65.02. Gap advanced $1.89, or 7.5 per cent, to $26.98 and Urban Outfitters rose 71 cents, or 3.2 per cent, to $23.

Athletic apparel and footwear maker Nike said it will raise its dividend, buy back $12 billion of its own shares and split its stock. Nike, which has nearly tripled over the last five years, rose $6.87, or 5.5 per cent, to $132.65.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, led a rally in tech stocks and made its biggest gain in almost a month. The company said Wednesday that former VMWare CEO Diane Green will run Google’s commercial technology business. That suggests Google wants to strengthen its enterprise business, which is a big profit centre for Amazon and Microsoft but an area where Google has lagged. Alphabet shares rose $17.06, or 2.2 per cent, to $777.

HP Enterprise, which sells commercial computer systems, software and tech services, rose 43 cents, or 2.1 per cent, to $14.21. Web domain-name registration company VeriSign added $3.70, or 4.3 per cent, to $90.30.

TurboTax maker Intuit climbed after it reported strong quarterly revenue and gave a forecast for the current quarter that was better than analysts expected. The stock added $5.78, or 5.9 per cent, to $103.20.

Chipotle Mexican Grill sustained its biggest one-day loss in three years. The shares dropped $75.32, or 12.3 per cent, to $536.19 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle locations has been found in three more states around the country. In October Chipotle briefly closed all its restaurants in Oregon and Washington to stem the outbreak.

U.S. crude lost 15 cents to $40.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 48 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $44.66 a barrel in London. This week U.S. crude dipped under $40 a barrel for the first time in almost three months.

Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $1.29 a gallon. Heating oil was also little changed at $1.371 a gallon. Natural gas fell 13 cents to $2.145 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.26 per cent from 2.25 per cent late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.0657 from $1.0731. The dollar edged up to 122.87 yen from 122.86 yen.

Metals prices continued to slide. The price of gold fell $1.60 to $1,076.30 an ounce. Silver slipped 12.6 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $14.10 an ounce. Copper declined 2.2 cents, or 1 per cent, to $2.06 a pound.


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