Stocks mixed amid earnings; Dow lags

Getty Images Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. stocks traded mostly higher on Friday on continued momentum from Thursday’s high levels as investors cheered major earnings reports and eyed developments in Greece debt talks.

The Nasdaq opened more than 30 points higher, and the S&P held higher, while the Dow traded in negative territory as its top-weighted stocks lagged.

The Nasdaq Composite outperformed the other major indices on Thursday to set an all-time closing record, topping the previous high of 5,048.62 set in March 2000.

“It looks to me like the bloodless verdict of the market is earnings are acceptable,” said Maris Ogg, president of Tower Bridge Advisors. “If you’re not going to take MCD down (on poor numbers) that’s encouraging.”

McDonald’s surged 3 percent on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a May presentation of a turnaround plan, despite the firm posting earnings that missed on both the top and bottom lines.

While the Dow Jones industrial average still has about 1 percent before surpassing its record close, the S&P 500 is within 10 points of reaching a new closing high.

“The tough part is if we get a new high, how much higher do we go after that,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.

Futures briefly pared gains following durable goods that beat on the headline figure but showed a disappointing decline in the core figure.

Durable goods, ex-transportation, fell 0.2 percent, below expectations for a slight gain but less than February’s 1.3 percent decline.

Including transportation, which tends to be volatile, the report posted an increase of 4 percent for March, surpassing expectations for a moderate bounce back, after February’s disappointing 1.4 percent month-on-month drop.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.93 percent. The U.S. dollar weakened.

Major stocks to watch include Microsoft, Google, Amazon.com, and Starbucks, which reported earnings after the bell on Thursday.

Read More Traders focus on tech, but keep one eye on Greece

Biogen‘s stock was under pressure ahead of the bell after the company’s first-quarter sales of Tecfidera, an oral multiple sclerosis drug, came in at $824.90 million, below consensus estimates, according to Reuters.

Xerox shares fell more than 3 percent after the company posted quarterly earnings and revenue that missed analysts’ expectations. The company also cut its full-year forecast amid a strong U.S. dollar.

Read More Early movers: BIIB, XRX, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, SBUX & more

AstraZeneca shares fell more than 3 percent in premarket trading after the company reported that sales fell by 6 percent in the first quarter, citing a rising dollar and competition from Nexium generics, according to Reuters.

Cable stocks were in focus as Comcast announced on Friday that it ended pursuit of a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45 billion.

Investors also kept an eye on oil, which closed at a new high for 2015 on Thursday.

“I think it’s getting a little ahead of itself,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “We’re probably headed to $60 but in the short-term overpriced.”

Symbol
Name
Price
Change
%Change
DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 18022.12
-36.57 -0.20%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2113.14
0.21 0.01%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 5083.41
27.35 0.54%

Crude oil futures for June delivery fell 14 cents to $57.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures fell $7.30 to $1,187.00 an ounce in early trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up 25 points, or 0.13 percent, at 18,078, with Microsoft jumping 6.5 percent to lead blue chips and Nike the greatest laggard.

The S&P 500 opened up 5 points, or 0.24 percent, or 2,117.18, with consumer discretionary leading five sectors higher and health care the greatest laggard.

The Nasdaq opened up 38 points, or 0.76 percent, at 5,094.

Advancers were a step ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 54 million and a composite volume of 136 million.

In Europe, European equities were higher as euro zone finance ministers gathered in Latvia, with Greece top of the agenda.

Greece is willing to make compromises to reach a deal on its debt, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Friday after tense talks with his euro zone peers on this issue.

“We want an agreement and we are willing to make compromises to achieve this,” Varoufakis told reporters. “The cost of not having a solution would be huge for all of us, Greece and the euro zone.”

Greece is running out of cash and needs a last tranche of bailout aid in order to meet debt repayments. So far, its reform drive has been slow and the aid has not been released.

Earlier, neither ministers involved nor analysts were holding out hope for a deal on Friday.

German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said he did not believe there would be decisive progress on Greece in Riga, while his Austrian counterpart said he was “quite annoyed” with the lack of progress over reforms, Reuters reported.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

Reuters and CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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