CHICAGO, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's current stock market news brought to you by Zacks Investment Research. Investors chose to ride on the positives at home yet again and shrugged off the prolonged global worries as indices rose for the third straight day. Technology stocks drove the markets higher as Oracle posted upbeat results and reports of better-than-expected growth of US economy boosted benchmarks. Global concerns over the Japan crisis, unrest in the Middle East and euro-zone debt worries were overshadowed on Friday, but the volumes remained low suggesting investors' apprehensions against betting big.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gained 0.4% to close at 12,220.59. The Standard & Poor 500 gathered 0.3% and finished at 1,313.80, while the Nasdaq Composite Index ended at 2,743.06 after posting a gain of 0.2%. The rise came amidst light volumes and the consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange was 3.5 billion shares. On NYSE one stock declined for every two that advanced. The week closed with new records as the Dow recorded its best week since July and finished with a weekly gain of 3.1%. The S&P 500 had its best run since early February posting a gain of 2.7% for the week and Nasdaq was up 3.8%. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) posted its biggest one-week drop since August, 2007, shedding 27%.
The technology sector boosted the broader market following better than expected quarterly results from Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ : ORCL). Oracle posted a 35% jump in revenues in constant currency while income soared 78%. Oracle's previous year's acquisition of Sun Microsystems is returning benefits to the company as hardware systems revenues were up by a massive 258%. Oracle also gave out positive guidance for the year and raised its dividend from 5 cent to 6 cents. The shares rose 1.6% and closed at $32.64. Also on the tech front, Accenture plc (NYSE : ACN) upped its outlook and consequently shares soared 4.5%. Among the gainers, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE : IBM), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ : YHOO), Teradata Corporation (NYSE : TDC), Finisar Corp. (NASDAQ : FNSR) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ : AAPL) soared 1.3%, 0.8%, 1.5%, 1.3% and 1.9%, respectively. However, shares of Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ : RIMM) plunged 11.2% after a weak quarter guidance.
The markets were also boosted by reports of the US economy growing at a rapid pace, beating expectations. Gaining momentum from robust exports and consumer spending, the economy raced forward in the fourth quarter of 2010. According to the Commerce Department, the Gross Domestic Product surged at an annualized rate of 3.1% beating a prior estimate of 2.8%. The figure also surged from 2.6% in the third quarter and was up from 1.7% in the second quarter. For 2010, GDP gained 2.9% in contrast to a negative 2.6% in 2009.
Investors shrugged off prevailing concerns in the geopolitical environment and it seems the markets have become accustomed to these concerns and remain unaffected by them. News of continuing Libyan unrest failed to jostle the indices. Japan is still engulfed by news of radiation leaks and there are no reports of further stabilization at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Portugal seems to be on the verge of seeking an international bail-out package, raising fresh concerns about the euro-zone debt crisis. However these concerns limited their effects to the energy sector and perhaps, the ripple they had caused earlier was corrective in nature.
Violence in Libya intensified and continued to raises concerns over crude supplies. Meanwhile, Japan will be in need of higher energy resources following the nuclear crisis and shutting down of nuclear plants. The oil indexes surged further as the NYSE Arca Oil index, NYSE Arca Natural Gas index and Philadelphia Oil Service index gained 1.3%, 0.9% and 0.06%, respectively and oil prices remained above $105 per barrel. The gainers in the sector included, Chevron Corp. (NYSE : CVX) (1.3%), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE : XOM) (1.1%), Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE : VLO) (4.0%), Western Refining Inc. (NYSE : WNR) (3.5%) and Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE : NFX) and they surged 1.3%, 1.1%, 4.0%, 3.5% and 4.0%, respectively.
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