Dow at nearly 3-year high; gold closes above $1,500

The blues chips have their best close since June 2008. Gold's finish is a record, and silver jumps above $46. General Electric, Verizon and McDonald's results don't impress. Biogen Idec says a multiple-sclerosis drug has promise.

By Charley Blaine Apr 21, 2011 1:12PM

Charley BlaineUpdated: 5:55 p.m. ET

Stocks finished with modest gains today and for the week as well, though the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) had their best close in almost three years. But gold and silver were the stars of the markets today.

Gold settled up $4.90 at $1,503.80 an ounce, its first close above $1,500. The metal is up 5.8% for the year. Silver settled at $46.059, up $1.60, or 3.6%, and its highest close since 1980. Silver is up 48.8% this year. The dollar finished at its lowest level since December 2009.

The modest gains for stocks came despite Apple's (AAPL)report of a huge earnings gain. General Electric (GE) results were better than expected, and it boosted its dividend to 15 cents a share, up 1 cent. Morgan Stanley (MS) was higher despite a disappointing quarter.

The Dow closed up 52 points to 12,506, its best close since June 5, 2008. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was up 7 points to 1,337, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) added 18 points to 2,820. Markets will be closed for Good Friday.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX.X) was up 20 points to 2,377. The gain was largely due to Apple, up 2.4% to $350.70, good for about 12 points of the the index's gain.

Article continues below.

The major indexes ended higher for the week, with the Dow and S&P 500 up 1.3%, their best weekly gains in four weeks. The Nasdaq's 2% gain was its best performance in five weeks. The Dow is up 8% for the year, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each up 6.3%.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are within 0.5% of their 2011 highs, both set on Feb. 18.

Some worries on the day
Despite the day's gains, there was some crankiness that the market wasn't stronger.

GE was one problem. While earnings were up 77% from a year ago, shares were down 2.2% to $19.95 because investors don't think it's growing fast enough. McDonald's (MCD) was off 1.9% to $76.91 after it warned about higher food costs ahead. And Verizon Communications (VZ) shares were off 2.3% to $36.91 in part because of the costs associated with activating 2.2 million iPhones.

Pfizer (PFE) was the Dow's biggest loser, down 2.9% to $19.79, amid reports that four patients died in a key clinical trial involving its rheumatoid arthritis drug Tofacitinib. Pfizer has viewed the drug as a potential alternative to a drug made by Abbott Laboratories (ABT). Abbott rose 2% to $51.80.

Two more issues: The dollar was a problem today. Plus, the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index, a closely watched economic indicator, suggested a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing, perhaps due to supply problems from the March 11 Japan earthquake.

After the close, shares of chip-maker SanDisk (SNDK) were up 0.1% to $49.05 after first-quarter earnings of $1.03, or $251 million, after one-time charges, up from 95 cents, or $225 million, a year ago. Revenue rose 19% to $1.29 billion. SanDisk shares, up 1.1% to $48.099 in regular trading, are off 1.7% this year but are up 6.3% in April.

Markets for the week



% chg.

YTD chg.
Dow industrials




S&P 500








Russell 2000




Crude oil 




(per barrel)




U.S. Dollar Index 




10-yr. Treasury








(per troy ounce)

Dollar briefly drops to 2008 levels; oil rises
While gold and silver were higher, the U.S. Dollar Index was at 74.18, down 0.387, after dropping to as low as 73.935, the lowest level since August 2008. The index measures the greenback against a basket of currencies. Traders believe the Federal Reserve may be compelled to raise interest rates soon.

Crude oil rose 84 cents to $112.29 a barrel. The national average price of gasoline was $3.84 a gallon, AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report said. That's up 25% for the year.

Interest rates were flat. The 10-year Treasury yield was 3.4%, unchanged from Wednesday.

GE sees a 6% sales gain; Biogen Idec's big day
Dow component General Electric reported a quarterly profit of 31 cents a share, beating expectations for 28 cents, as sales rose 6% to $38.4 billion. The conglomerate also raised its quarterly dividend by 1 cent to 15 cents. 

DuPont (DD) shares were up 1% to $55.91.  The chemical-maker surpassed Wall Street's expectations with first-quarter earnings of $1.52 a share on sales of $10.03 billion. Analysts had projected earnings of $1.36 a share on sales of $9.19 billion.

McDonald's topped expectations by a penny with earnings of $1.16 a share and reported sales of $6.11 billion, slightly ahead of the $6 billion that analysts had expected. But the inflation forecast was weighing on shares.

Steel producer Nucor (NUE) earned nearly $160 million, or 50 cents a share. That beat the company's guidance of 30 to 35 cents and the average analyst estimate of 36 cents. Revenue was $4.8 billion, ahead of the Street estimate of $4.5 billion. Shares were down 0.7% to $46.15.

Biogen Idec (BIIB) surged 15.2% to $99.70. The world’s largest maker of multiple-sclerosis medicines reported results from a study of its MS pill BG-12 that exceeded analysts' expectations.

Mattel loses in Bratz copyright case

A federal court jury has rejected Mattel's (MAT) copyright infringement claims involving MGA Entertainment's popular line of Bratz dolls and awarded MGA $88.4 million for misappropriation of its trade secrets by the Barbie maker.

The jury found Thursday that MGA had proven that Mattel acted willfully and maliciously in misappropriating the secrets.

Mattel shares were off 1% to $26.67. 

Energy prices -- New York close
 Thur.  Wed.  Month chg.  YTD chg.
Crude oil 

$112.29  $111.45  5.22%  22.88%
(per barrel)




Heating oil

$3.1992  $3.2214  3.54%  25.77%
(per gallon)




Natural gas 

$4.4120  $4.3100  0.52%  0.16%
(per mil. BTU)




Unleaded gasoline




(per gallon)




Brent crude

$123.99  $123.85  5.82%  30.86%
(per barrel)

Retail gasoline




(per gallon; AAA)

Travelers leads the Dow
Nineteen of the 30 Dow stocks were higher, led by insurance giant Travelers Companies (TRV), up 3.7% to $61.32. First-quarter earnings of $1.89 a share beat Street estimates by 33 cents.

In addition, 62 Nasdaq-100 stocks were higher, led by Biogen Idec. The laggard was Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA), down 8.5% to $45.01, largely because it has been working on an MS drug as well.

Biogen Idec was also the top S&P 500 stock, followed by Sallie Mae, or more formally known as SLM Corp. (SLM), up 12.8% to $16.31. The company, which finances student loans, said credit quality was improving as it reported a surprisingly strong quarter. Sallie Mae also announced a big share repurchase and declared a dividend for the first time since 2007.

Leaders and laggards in the market
UnitedHealth Group (UNH), up 8.1% to $47.81. The largest U.S. insurer by sales raised its full-year forecast after reporting quarterly profit that beat analyst estimates as enrollment increased and medical spending fell.

Yum Brands (YUM), up 4.1% to $53.65. The owner of KFC and Taco Bell restaurant chains reported first-quarter sales of $2.43 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of $2.39 billion.

Select Comfort (SCSS), up 30.3% to $17.29. The maker of Sleep Number adjustable beds forecast earnings in 2011 of at least 85 cents a share, beating the 71-cent average estimate by analysts. The company and rival Tempur-Pedic (TPX) both noted more demand for mattresses and pillows. Tempur-Pedic was up 2.9% to $61.73.

Plexus (PLXS), up 9.5% to $36.92. The contract electronics manufacturer forecast earnings in the third-quarter to be at least 52 cents a share, topping the average analyst estimate of 48 cents.

E-Trade Financial (ETFC), up 3.5% to $16.47. The online brokerage reported first-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, beating the analyst estimate of 12 cents on average.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), down 3.8% to $277.30. The restaurant chain reported operating margin at the restaurant level in the first quarter was 25.2%, down about 0.9% from a year earlier. Separately, the stock will replace Novell (NOVL) in the S&P 500 on a date in the future, Standard & Poor's said.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close
 Thur.  Wed.

Month chg.

YTD chg.
Treasury yields


13-week Treasury bill




5-year Treasury note 




10-year Treasury note




30-year Treasury bond





U.S. Dollar Index




British pound




(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in pounds




Euro in dollars




(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in euros

€ 0.686

€ 0.688


U.S. $ in yen 




U.S. $ in Chinese





Canada dollar




(in U.S. $)

U.S. dollar 




(in Canadian $)









(per troy ounce)







(per pound)





(per troy ounce)





(per bushel)





(per bushel)


$1.8667  $1.8317  -6.77%  28.91%
(per pound)

Crude oil 




(per barrel)

Apr 21, 2011 1:31PM
With unemployment of 9%, a housing market depression, oil and commodity prices rising while middle class incomes stagnate, and a $14T national debt, the question should be "why is the market up at all?"
Wow how do I put this sheen who.
I agree with you that with real unemployment now over 25 percent and a reduction of wages for those left working (2006 half of Americans made less than $32,000 now half make less than $26,500 a year adjusted for inflation 2006 numbers are now $37,000). 

That means that half of Americans Americans already hurting before the greatest depression are now making $11,000 less today or 1/3 of what they use to make.

Things are going to get even worse as our leaders are destroying our economy on purpose. Yes you all hear me right. Our leaders are doing this on purpose as they do not like the idea that Americans should make a livable wage.
Apr 21, 2011 5:03PM
who cares anymore - it goes up and it goes down and all that happens is the American people get screwed one way or another - if it was not for wall street our gasoline prices would be well under 1.00 per gallon - wall street is the world capital of greed and nothing more - i know, i retired from that crap hole and never will go back again for any reason
Apr 21, 2011 3:38PM
The market adheres to no ryhme nor reason but is simply driven up or down based on information which may or may not be truthful or accurate.  When certain organizations report housing starts, unemployment rates, job creation etc. one would think that these firms are reporting the absolute truth along with accurate info but we all know that they manipulate the stats to make things look better than they are.  The average investor is not the person making big money in this charade but it is the large financial institutions and investment firms who are buying and selling millions of dollars daily based on the info they have access to.  By the time the average investor hears about the latest opportunity or in some cases a problem within a particular company the market has already moved.  Case in point was Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR)  who awhile back was rumored to be selected by StarBucks to be the supplier of the single serve coffee cups to all the Starbucks.  Green Mountain already owns the Keurig coffee makers which are the # 1 single serve coffee makers so when the info leaked out GMCR stock price rose dramatically.  Then Starbucks announced there was no deal and that they were talking to other suppliers so GMCR shares dropped dramatically.  Then "miraculously" three weeks or so later...Starbucks announced the deal was struck with GMCR and the shares jumped about 30%.  Talk about manipulation!!! 
Apr 21, 2011 7:02PM

You've all read the alleged letter from Charlie Reese, of the Orlando Sentinel. 545 vs. 300,000,000 people. "The 545 is 100 senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine supreme court justices, who are directly responsible for the domestic issues that plague this country." And..."It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted - -by present facts - - of incompetence and irresponsibility." That goes for both Democrats and Republicans.


Do your job and bring this nation back to internal prosperity for the American people. I could care less what Wall Street does. It's bells and whistles, smoke and mirrors. Putting people back to work and getting our nations debt down is the key.

Apr 21, 2011 2:06PM
Stocks rise but bernake's a criminal...this should be the header on this post...
Apr 21, 2011 4:47PM
How sweet it s when the good guys end the day and the week on top....We will have a whole bunch of peed off manipulators on monday...Oh well, we will worry about it then....Do not take these scumbags for granted though, they can do a lot of damage. Why? Because they just can. Have a great Easter weekend all.
Apr 21, 2011 6:27PM

Oil  futures are bought and sold many times over before it is even pumped out of the ground. This is one of the many ways, we as a consumer, line the pockets of "funds managers" . Oh yes then they start buying and selling this oil as it is making it's way up from the depths of the earth where it was formed because the big money investors say " There might be war in the middle east ".  Futures market manipulators' use any scare tactic to buy and sell futures to increase prices to line their own bank account, "ALL IN THE NAME OF FREE MARKETS". Someone has to pay and guess who that someone is ?????? 


This is not what these markets were meant to be. Why did the FEDS open up pandora's box and let WALL STREET take over the futures markets ????????????????????????


Who is your audience? What do stock markets on Wall Street have to do with the daily lives of 300,000,000 Americans? The only credit I give you, and most media today, is you know how to keep Americans uninformed of reality, and at each others throats. I guess that's called successful propaganda.


'We the People', get your eye back on the ball. It's us against them (the federal Government, Corporate America, and the Elite.).




Apr 21, 2011 8:25PM

Thinking  well, if you truly seek the truth .... you are confusing the macro-bs talked about in the first few paragraphs and investor sentiment which is not what "moves the market."  the market is actually moved by the micro-decisions made by the collective action of millions of individual decisions by computer trading programs, day traders, novice traders , expert traders, hot tips, reasoned analysis, intuitional level management board decisions, mutual fund manager decisions, index fund and sector ETF automatic rebalancing and a myriad of other trades by hedgies and derivative holders that have nothing to do with sentiment, news or information as it is purely mathematical or "quantitative."  now THERE is the truth you seek.


as far as the "average investor" you are also confused - you mean average trader.  the average investor uses an independent advisor like myself or invests via mutual funds which also provide more instantaneous and diversified investment selection.  we have access to much of this "inside info" to which you refer via large and well-paid research analyst staff and/or consultant research.


so, how about a nice game of chess?


Apr 21, 2011 5:06PM
Apr 21, 2011 6:00PM

Reiterative, for sure from me.  The 'market' controls' nothing in real has not for year's.  It is the biggest 'ponzi' scheme ever perpetuated on the society we used to know as 'middle class'.   The dollar is continually being devalued and who can possibly think that 'gold' will be an 'alterior' method as being condidered in Utah.  It is just another 'fantasy' that will further continue to 'devaluate the dollar.  Simple question...who are you going to see the gold to if you have some @ 1500 an ounce?  Answer is... only those that are 'in the know' in manipulation and have the money to trade back and forth and drive up the prices as with the stock market.

Do not be fooled....we are headed down the road to total financial humiliation as we are no longer a 'power' financially as some still may want to think.

Good luck!  I'd use extreme caution, remember all the bubbles?  Housing, NYSE 2 years ago????  When the manipulators decide it's time and they short, there goes your hard earned cash!  You think the last one was bad, just wait for the next one!  No offense, I admit I could be wrong and I could be missing the boat, I for one am on the sidelines for a very long time, like until the national debt reduces, unemployment reduces and we actually start producing as a nation instea of an economy of purchasing the latest cell phones and gadgets.
Apr 21, 2011 1:56PM
Very good day yesterday....Earnings is the name of the game...Plenty of peed off scumbags today, to be expected...Earnings were good again after the close; we should be up easy today, however, we are not. Manipulators starting to do their thing, they don't want two great days in a row and will try to bring us down these last two hours. We will try to hold on...Oh well. that's life on Wall Street. Crooks and cheaters want to make money too.
Apr 22, 2011 1:35AM


something is totally fcked upped in washington....when it comes to sex and money sex loses??

farmer puts a twenty dollar bill Money , a pint bottle of whiskey Martini glass  and a Bible Lightningon the dining room table an tells his wife to hide in the kitchen to see what will happen when his soon-off-to-college-in-the-big-city son walks in.  he says if he takes the money he'll be a banker Computer, if he takes the whiskey he'll be a no-good gambler, thief and philanderer Devil, and if he takes the Bible he'll be a Preacher Angel.


in a little while the son walks in from the porch past the dining room, surveys the table, looks over his shoulder a few times, picks up the twenty and puts it in his pocket, grabs the bottle and takes a long pull on it before putting it into his pocket as well, and then puts the Bible under his arm and heads up to his room.


the farmer's mouth drops open and his eyes get very wide ..... he says to his wife .....



Honey, our boy is gonna be a Congressman!   Wink



Apr 21, 2011 5:57PM

Feds shut down online gambling....... Feds bail-out wall street.......

Fed needs to shut down futures markets

Apr 21, 2011 6:19PM
im confused, market went up based on 1q gdp growth estimate of 3.5 some as high these estimates have been cut to  growth of 1.5%some even has ignored this and continues to rise.with qe2 almost gone there is a chance that a reccession is coming.what im i missing that makes others so optimistic?
Apr 21, 2011 5:27PM
Happy days are here again! Fill up your glass with beer again! I better drink now before the tax on alcohol rises.
Apr 21, 2011 8:47PM

Hot cms, the market is an index and is over weighted toward big blue chip and tech stocks.  those stocks are being valued based on improving earnings and thus move the entire index higher even though many mid to small companies are hurting.  much of this is due to overseas cheap labor and low tax rates and "productivity" gains (working employees harder).


point taken though - there is much underlying decay

Apr 21, 2011 5:49PM
based on whats really going on with the worlds economies dow should be at 8k.but who cares the party continues.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market capped the trading week with losses across the major averages. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to surrender its weekly gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7%) and Russell 2000 (-0.9%) underperformed. The two indices posted respective losses of 0.8% and 0.6% for the week.

Equity indices were pressured from the get-go after several heavyweights disappointed the market with their earnings and/or guidance, which led to some broader profit-taking. After ... More


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