* S&P 500 scores biggest weekly percentage gain since July
* Morgan Stanley, GE shares rally after results
* Google, IBM shares fall a day after posting earnings
* Dow off 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.1 pct; Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
(Updates to close)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 17 U.S. stocks ended a
holiday-shortened week with mostly modest gains on Thursday,
though the S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly advance since July
as Morgan Stanley and General Electric rallied after strong
The two were the latest to post earnings that topped
expectations, helping to lift the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to
their fourth straight daily advance. Tech bellwethers Google and
IBM fell on disappointing figures and limited the broader
market's gain. IBM's slide pushed the Dow into slightly negative
territory at the close.
With less than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies having
reported results so far, about 63 percent have topped earnings
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, exceeding the
56 percent average over the past four quarters. About 52 percent
have beaten revenue forecasts, about even with the 54 percent
average over the past four quarters.
Morgan Stanley rose 2.9 percent to $30.76 after the
financial services company reported a rise in first-quarter
earnings, while Goldman Sachs edged up 0.1 percent to
$157.44 after reporting earnings that fell less than expected.
General Electric posted a 12 percent rise in overall
industrial profits and its stock gained 1.7 percent to $26.56.
"Today's earnings were mixed, with some beating and others
missing, but the results we've seen this week
have given the season a positive tone," said Kate Warne,
investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, which has
$787 billion in assets. "We had expected a greater impact from
weather, but industrials and banks are all doing better, which
relieves that area of concern."
Tech shares capped the S&P 500's gain, with Google Inc
down 3.7 percent at $543.34 and IBM off 3.3
percent at $190.01 a day after both reported earnings that
failed to impress Wall Street. The results raised questions
about those of other tech-sector companies.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 16.31
points, or 0.10 percent, to end at 16,408.54. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index rose 2.54 points, or 0.14 percent, to
finish at 1,864.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained
9.29 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 4,095.52.
For the week, the Dow rose 2.4 percent, the S&P 500 added
2.7 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 2.4 percent. The Dow had its
best week since December while the S&P 500 closed out its best
week since July.
Trading volume was light ahead of the Good Friday market
holiday. About 6.1 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms,
according to BATS exchange data, below the month-to-date average
of 6.88 billion.
The CBOE Volatility index, a measure of investor
anxiety, fell 21.6 percent over the week, its biggest weekly
drop since January 2013.
After the closing bell, Advanced Micro Devices Inc
reported first-quarter results that beat expectations, sending
its shares up 2.9 percent to $3.86 in extended trading.
During the regular session, SanDisk Corp was the
S&P 500's biggest gainer and helped boost the Nasdaq 100.
SanDisk's stock shot up 9.4 percent to close at $82.99 a day
after the company reported first-quarter revenue ahead of
Baker Hughes shares hit their highest price since
August 2011 after the world's third-largest oilfield services
company posted better-than-expected results as revenue in its
core North American business rose nearly 7 percent. The stock
climbed 3 percent to close at $68.33 after earlier rising as
high as $69.78.
UnitedHealth Group fell 3.1 percent to $75.78 after
the health insurer said it has spent more than $100 million to
cover a pricey new hepatitis C drug from Gilead Sciences
, a higher cost than it expected by "multiples." Peer
company WellPoint slid 3.8 percent to end at $92.
Questions from U.S. lawmakers on the cost of that drug
prompted a sharp selloff in Gilead in mid-March that lasted for
nearly a month. The stock rose 1 percent to $70 on Thursday.
The latest data showed the U.S. economy's health was
improving. The number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits rose less than expected in the latest week
and came near pre-recession levels. Factory activity in the U.S.
mid-Atlantic region expanded in April at a faster clip than
anticipated, according to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank
Shares of China's Weibo Corp opened slightly below
the $17 pricing of its initial public offering, which was at the
lower end of expectations on concerns about the microblogging
service's slowing user growth. The stock, however, turned
sharply higher in afternoon trading and ended up 19.1 percent at
Western Union fell 5 percent to $15.25 after Wal-Mart
Stores said it was launching a domestic money transfer
service in partnership with Euronet Worldwide
subsidiary Ria Money Transfer.
Shares of MoneyGram International, which currently
provides money transfer services for Wal-Mart, plunged 17.7
percent to $14.81. Euronet rose 4 percent to $42.44. Wal-Mart
gained 0.6 percent to $77.66.
About 56 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange ended the day higher while 61 percent of Nasdaq-listed
shares ended in positive territory.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)