New York — The stock market closed out its best week this year with a modest gain on Friday, helped by airlines and industrial companies, AP reports. Investors now turn their focus to corporate earnings, which will start to pick up next week.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33.74 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,084.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.46 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,014.89 and the Nasdaq composite rose 19.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,830.47.
The S&P 500 ended the week up 3.3 percent, its best week since mid-December. Global markets also had a strong week, with markets in Germany and France rising more than 5 percent. In Asia, markets in Japan, China and Hong Kong are up roughly 4 percent each.
Most of the gains this week came immediately following the release of last week’s disappointing jobs report, which sent a signal to investors that the Federal Reserve would hold pat on raising interest rates at least for several more months. That signal was reinforced Thursday, when the minutes from the September Fed meeting showed policymakers are too concerned about low inflation and the slowdown in China to raise interest rates.
“In short, we found little to change our view that the first Fed hike will not occur in 2015 (and the) market has reached the same conclusion,” wrote Ajay Rajadhyaksha, head of fixed-income at Barclays, in a report.
One sector that did push higher was airlines. The companies said they flew nearly full flights last month, an important profit driver for the industry. United Continental flew flights on average 82.9 percent full; while American Airlines reported its flights were 82.7 percent full.
United Continental rose 6.6 percent, American rose 6.7 percent, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines added 3 percent each. One industrial company that did not do well was Alcoa, the aluminum company, which fell 75 cents, or 7 percent, to $10.26. The company reported a steep drop in profits for its third quarter, citing lower aluminum prices and a strong U.S. dollar.
Investors are now positioning themselves for corporate earnings, which pick up steam next week with most of the nation’s largest banks report their results, as well as big companies like Intel, Netflix, UnitedHealth and General Electric. Earnings are expected to be down roughly 5.5 percent from a year ago, according to FactSet, mostly because of a sharp drop in commodity prices.
“Earnings are going to dominate the next few weeks. Once we get guidance from Corporate America, investors will be reasonably more confident about getting back into the market,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.
The price of U.S. oil edged higher Friday. Benchmark crude oil rose 20 cents to close at $49.63 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, which is used to price international oils, slipped 40 cents to $52.65 a barrel in London.
In other futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, wholesale gasoline rose 0.9 cents to close at $1.417 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.1 cents to close at $1.591 a gallon and natural gas rose 0.4 cents to close at $2.502 per 1,000 cubic feet.
U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.09 percent. The euro rose to $1.1363 while the dollar rose to 120.24 yen.
Metals prices rose. Gold climbed $11.60 to $1,155.90 an ounce, silver gained five cents to $15.82 an ounce and copper climbed seven cents to $2.41 a pound.