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S&P 500 ends at record high, boosted by tech results

10/25/2013 | 04:41pm US/Eastern
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The S&P 500 ended at another record high on Friday, boosted by gains in technology shares after strong results from Microsoft and Amazon.com.

They were the latest to offer some upbeat news on the earnings season, which has been mixed overall, especially on the revenue side where the percentage of companies beating analysts' expectations has been below the long-term average.

Microsoft (>> Microsoft Corporation) gave the biggest boost to all three major indexes, while Amazon.com (>> Amazon.com, Inc.) also helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Microsoft shares jumped 6 percent at $35.73, a day after it reported profit and revenue above analysts' expectations.

Amazon.com shares rose as high as $368.40, a record, after the online retailer reported stronger-than-expected sales growth. Shares ended up 9.4 percent at $363.39. The S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT> rose 0.4 percent.

The market has risen following last week's legislation to avoid a U.S. debt default and end a partial government shutdown, as well as increased speculation the Federal Reserve will delay scaling back its stimulus for several months. The S&P 500 had hit record finishes for four sessions until Wednesday.

"It seems like good news is being responded to very well and bad news is just seen as more evidence the Fed won't be able to tighten anytime soon," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The S&P 500 is up 23.4 percent so far this year, just shy of the 23.5 percent gain it posted in 2009. Surpassing the 2009 record would give the index its biggest annual gain in a decade.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 61.07 points, or 0.39 percent, at 15,570.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> ended up 7.7 points, or 0.44 percent, at 1,759.77, and hit an intraday record high of 1,759.82 late in the session.

The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 14.40 points, or 0.37 percent, at 3,943.36.

Indexes also posted gains for the week. The Dow rose 1.1 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent and Nasdaq 0.7 percent. The Russell 2000 index of small cap stocks <.TOY> registered its eighth week of gains, its longest streak since 2003.

Based on results so far and estimates for companies still to report, S&P 500 earnings are expected to have risen just 3.4 percent in the third quarter, with 69 percent of companies reporting earnings above analysts' expectations. Revenue growth is seen at 2.2 percent for the quarter, with just 54.2 percent beating sales estimates, below the long-term average of 61 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Among other earnings, United Parcel Service's (>> United Parcel Service, Inc.) stock hit a record at $96.94 after the company posted a bigger quarterly profit and said it expects online sales to boost holiday volume. Shares ended up 1.2 percent at $95.61.

Also, Zynga (>> Zynga Inc) late Thursday said it expects a full-year profit after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results. Shares jumped 5.5 percent to $3.729.

Dow component DuPont (>> E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co) jumped to the highest in more than 13 years, a day after announcing it will spin off its titanium dioxide unit within 18 months. Shares rose 0.8 percent to $61.90.

The day's economic data overall pointed to more signs that the recent budget battle in Washington has held back the economy.

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods outside of transportation equipment fell in September, possibly due to uncertainty over government spending. U.S. consumer sentiment dropped in October to its lowest level since the end of last year as consumers worried congressional dysfunction.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

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