By PALLAVI GOGOI, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks eked out a small gain at the end of a rough week in which the market was weighed down by prospects of a global economic slowdown.
The Dow on Friday closed up 34.59 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,080.73. Financial stocks performed well, led by a 2.6 percent gain for Bank of America.
For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average was off 152 points, the worst in a month despite reports of strengthening in the U.S. jobs market and better corporate profits. Investors were worried about a slowdown in Asia and Europe and the impact of higher oil prices on consumer spending.
Home builders and home improvement stocks fell Friday after the Commerce Department said sales of new homes fell 1.6 percent last month. PulteGroup fell 2.6 percent and Lennar declined 1 percent, while Lowe's and Home Depot fell a little less than 1 percent.
In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 4.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,397.11 and the Nasdaq composite rose 4.6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,067.92.
A wide range of companies including Nike, Oracle, FedEx, and Tiffany have reported stellar earnings this week. However, those accomplishments were marred by worries of the effect of a slowdown in Asia and Europe on the companies that rely on global sales. Reports in China and Europe earlier in the week pointed to a likely slowdown in those economies.
Nike was off 3.2 percent, FedEx down less than 1 percent and Tiffany was off 1.4 percent.
"Investors are scared so they're seeing a glass half empty rather than a glass half full," said Rob Lutts, president at Cabot Money Management.
American consumers, who drive two-thirds of the economy, are spending more in stores and restaurants. But investors are worried about how long that will last if oil prices continue to rise.
Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster, beat Wall Street forecasts with an 8.5 percent increase in profits after warm weather brought more people to its restaurants. But Darden stock fell 1.7 percent.
Crude oil rose 1.4 percent after a brief downturn Thursday. Gasoline has risen 59 cents per gallon since Jan. 1 and the average price nationwide is above $4 in at least eight states, plus the District of Columbia.
And then there is China and Europe. New surveys showed a contraction in the manufacturing sector in China, a bellwether for world demand as it produces and exports a huge amount of consumer goods. In Europe, Ireland dipped back into recession.
However, Lutts believe the worries are overblown. "Though China is slowing, I'm not that worried because the government will do all it can to get growth back on track," he said.
Treasury prices and gold rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent.
In other corporate news:
— Micron Technology fell 3.6 percent, one of the biggest drops in the S&P 500. The maker of computer chips and flash memory reported a larger loss than analysts expected after the market closed Thursday.
— KB Home stock plunged 8.5 percent after it said there was a spike in cancellations of contracts for new homes between December and February, driving its home orders down 8 percent. Buyers canceled orders because KB Home raised prices and some mortgage lenders backed away from making loans.
— Fertilizer maker Mosaic Co. was up 2.5 percent after JPMorgan analysts upgraded the stock for securing new contracts.
— Morgan Stanley stock moved up 3.8 percent, after a Credit Suisse analyst upgraded its stock on an improved outlook for its investment banking business.
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