Stocks edge higher after consumer sentiment rises

Leading economic indicators are also up. Global markets climb as Germany's Merkel backs the euro and the ECB. Apple hits a new high. Gap beats estimates, while Aeropostale misses. Marvell's results disappoint, and Groupon drops on a downgrade.

By Melly Alazraki Aug 17, 2012 9:21AM

Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET

Stocks continued to trade in a narrow range Friday as has often been the case recently during this quiet summer period. Markets lacked conviction even after reports that consumer confidence rose in August and leading economic indicators climbed in July. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) shares hit another high, as Marvell Technology (MRVL) plunged on earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was up 17 points at 13,267. The S&P 500 ($INX) was up 1 point at 1,417. The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) was up 8 points at 3,071.

U.S. markets closed higher Thursday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's remarks supporting the euro and the European Central Bank. The Dow closed up 85 points, the S&P 500 was up 10 points, and the Nasdaq ended the day 31 points higher.

US economic data
The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index rose to a preliminary reading of 73.6 in August from a final reading of 72.3 in July. Economists had expected the August reading to come in at 72.2, according to

The index of leading economic indicators ticked 0.4% higher in July after falling 0.3% in June, according to the Conference Board, indicating the slow growth in the U.S. economy is likely to continue. Economists had expected an increase of 0.2%, according to

Merkel's influence
Merkel's -- and Germany's -- support for the ECB's actions to help indebted countries and their commitment and support of the euro had a global influence.

European stocks traded in positive territory and the euro posted gains after Merkel on Thursday backed the ECB's approach to defending the euro and helping reduce borrowing costs in indebted countries when talking to reporters in Ottawa. Merkel added, "On many of these issues we feel we're on the right track."

Asian shares were also higher, with the Japan's Nikkei ending at its highest level in over three months, buoyed by Merkel's comments as well as by a forecast by the Japanese government that the country's long deflationary conditions might end this year.

Gold on Friday extended gains from the previous session. On Thursday, gold rose the most in two weeks after Merkel's remarks. Meanwhile, oil prices fell after the U.S. said it was considering the release of oil reserves to dampen prices and concerns over an Israeli attack in Iran eased.

Stocks to watch
(GPS) reported a 29% rise in quarterly profit that topped analysts' estimates, aided by domestic sales. The largest U.S. specialty-apparel retailer also raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Chipmaker Marvell Technology (MRVL) dropped after the company posted second-quarter earnings and said current-quarter results may miss expectations.

Brocade Communications Systems (BRCD), a maker of switches for data-storage networks that has been seeking to sell itself, said its chief executive officer will resign.

Food producer J.M. Smucker (SJM) reported fiscal-first-quarter profit of $1.17 per share, excluding certain items, 17 cents above estimates. Smucker also increased its quarterly dividend by 8%.

Athletic footwear retailer Foot Locker (FL) reported second-quarter profit of $0.38 per share, excluding certain items, 5 cents above estimates.

Teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) reported a breakeven second quarter, matching Street estimates, while sales fell slightly short of expectations. The retailer also sees a soft start to the back-to-school season, and its third-quarter earnings forecast is below estimates.

Facebook (FB) closed down 6.3% Thursday after the end of a lockup period for its shares. It was the second-largest post-lockup decline among companies that have gone public since January 2011, Bloomberg reports.

Groupon's (GRPN) shares fell after Evercore Partners analysts downgraded shares of the daily-deals specialist to "underweight" and cut the target price on the stock to $3 a share from $6.50 a share.

Samsung rested its case in a patent-infringement trial with Apple (AAPL) after witnesses said the iPhone maker would owe the South Korean company as much as $421.8 million in royalties. Apple shares, meanwhile, reached a record close of $636.34 in regular trading Thursday. Reports about the company's next product releases pushed the stock to new highs Friday.

Aug 17, 2012 10:14AM
open question to MSN:  why can't you guys delete the spam that occupies so many of these comments?!?!?!?!? 
Aug 17, 2012 10:26AM
So Clinton will not replace Biden on the ticket.
How about she replace the other guy then.
Aug 17, 2012 9:36AM
i feel good knowing a buddy of mine was given facebook shares and he sold them on day one for apparently the highest price that stock will ever see! 
Aug 17, 2012 9:48AM
Libtard hypocrite of the Day:

Alec Baldwin has been on many rants about big corporations, big banks, CEO pay and bonuses, etc. etc. Promising to move to Canada if Al Gore didn't win. But good ol' Alec, he  has no problem being a paid HO for Capital One one of the largest corporations in America. His face is all over the TV pimping those high interest, predatory lenders.  Money talks huh, Alec?

So, here's to you Emperor of the compounding Interest are the real genius libtard hypocrite of the day. And your acting sucks too.

Aug 17, 2012 11:06AM
The CME announced that gold bullion is considered eligible collateral for trades. The decision is an important step for gold as a monetary substitute, and makes a modest mockery of Bernanke's comment that gold is a "relic." 
Aug 17, 2012 11:15AM
Stocks are NOT doing well today.....and there is NO CONSUMER SENTIMENT!!! Unbelievable article!!!! Get a grip on reality! The economy is bad!

Yea free monies -- ECB going to open up the printing presses the downward Death Spiral of Lost Jobs and an ever weaker and weaker economy is now going to accelerate both here and in Europe


Expect total economic collaspe by end of 2013



Merkel's influence
Merkel's -- and Germany's -- support of the ECB's actions to help indebted countries and their commitment and support of the euro had a global influence.


End Quote

Aug 17, 2012 11:59AM

and with that I will re-post something from yesterday


Why I hate republicans & democrats about equally:


They can't even agree on reality, or in the case of the nations debt on basic math.  You can not solve the problem without cutting entitlment spending, period.  Guess what you can't solve it without cutting military spending too.  Oh and you can't solve it without raising taxes either, that is a combo of a bunch of taxes including income taxes and the Bush tax cuts, period.  Math doesn't lie, just the ****s who use fake numbers.  If we can't agree on this much then we will fail. 


I am an independent voter, that means I don't know the answer before I've heard the question....


Aug 17, 2012 12:13PM

Re-Tog had a good point:

Quit reading and ranting about Politics and learn something about Investing and the Markets.

Now to integrate them:

This would be a great time to look into your positions on General Dynamics & Lockheed-Martin (a great Florida company). Israel isn't playing around when they talk about going into Iran- but only for 30 day's-probally longer though. The last thing anyone in the world would want is Iran developing nuclear weapons. ( I still think their leader was one on the kidnappers back during the Iranian hostage situation). Yea -war is bad & no one wins; but those islamic terrorist just want to see the whole world burn and must be contained UNTIL they're ready to join the rest of civilized society.

Aug 17, 2012 11:10AM
Looks like another BS market day.......... It appears that the WS crooks have temporarily pulled their heads out of their a$$es and are looking around for more free money - Oh, which way do we go? Stick it in or pull it out?. So many choices on a Friday........
Aug 17, 2012 11:34AM
Wow...  In Chicago today, Owebama better do something about gas prices or he might lose his home state...  It was 4.59 a gallon in the city...  Ft worth was 3.39....   A full 1.20 a gallon higher...

Chicago sure knows how to rip off people there!  Good going democrats!
Aug 17, 2012 12:03PM

Tumble; you reaffirm most conservatives viewpoint of a liberal.  While scholastically many of you are bright, your ability to perform deductive reasoning and critical thinking is frighteningly void.

Aug 17, 2012 11:16AM

For the song of the day: I nominate; (no fluffy 70's crap-I promise)


Dazed and confused-Led Zepplin


Just look at the chart today.

Aug 17, 2012 10:48AM

81 more day's until we elect Romney for President ! E I G H T Y   O N E   more   day's !

And one of you pointed out that it's only 157 more day's until he takes the oath of office.


let's see- Got a month long vacation to the islands planned that last 40 day's (doesn't everyones month long vacations last 40 days? if congress can, so can I)


And a few lobster trips to the keys; that brings it down to about 20 days to deal with.

Maybe throw in a couple of 'poker runs' on the bike for some charitable work; that'll bring it down to about 15 days.

That sounds good to me!!!

Aug 17, 2012 12:01PM
Colorado Cowboy - You throw a lot of rhetoric around as if it were reality. Conservatives use rhetoric to explain reality, Liberals use rhetoric to hide reality, and then they believe their own lie... Everything about the DNC/Liberal platform these days is about collectivism (i.e. communism). They don't see people as individuals, they see them as a collective group... There is the black group, the hispanic group, the women group, the young people group, the gay group, etc., etc. That is the epitome of communism. Conservatives see people as individuals, with freedom, liberty and independence, and the ability to self-govern.
Aug 17, 2012 11:41AM
For those who didn't know and have been sending me goofy reply's.
Four incumbent presidents have been denied a nomination to run by their own party. Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson (sort of), and Chester A. Arthur; but only Pierce had actually been elected president. The rest were vice presidents who who ascended to the presidency after assassinations or deaths in office. 
Pierce was our 14th President and served from 1853-1857. John Fremont defeated Pierce in his bid for renomination, making Pierce the only elected President (rather than a Vice President who succeeded to the position) to not gain his party's nomination for a second term.

Aug 17, 2012 11:28AM

May 26, 2001-10:11 am Paul Ryan voted yes for Bush tax cuts 1.8 trillion and counting---unfunded

Oct 10, 2002- 3:05 pm voted yes to invade Iraq 1.3 trillon and counting---unfunded

May 23, 2003 1:56 am voted yes on Bush's 2nd tax cuts 4.4 trillion and counting---unfunded

June 27, 2003 voted yes for the perscription drug bill 730 billion and counting---unfunded

 This is why the deficits are huge but Paul Ryan has no manhood to fess up to how he voted and the results of them. They blame Obama but this is facts and the bills that are continuing to run up for the lame duck and he hides with no morals to face the facts, but instead is a coward and blames Obama for his own voting record for running up the deficit !!!!!!!!

 Ron Paul is the man....

Aug 17, 2012 12:02PM

50-60 comments and about 25% are spam/dating...

Another 25% are repeats from a couple days ago....If you type it enough, will you believe it ?

Another 25% are rehashes from the last year....Got anything solve yet, or are you just morons?

Maybe 15% are something new, maybe even refreshing ???

That leaves about 10%, THAT MIGHT BE about investing or the markets.

And only about half of that or 5%, do not have politics intertwined into them...

Say what you want and convince yourselves, but the politics that you blabber repeatly about have little bearing on a sensible persons investing...But just keep blabbering...

Yes, I think I will go to a Casino soon, we don't argue politics at the Tables.

Aug 17, 2012 11:14AM
Commodities outside precious are showing a positive bias. The Obama administration is making noises regarding a possible release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which is weighing on energy prices. However WTI crude futures continue to be supported by Middle East tensions as headlines regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran have made the rounds this week.  
Aug 17, 2012 12:48PM

My lunch hour is over so back to work.  May both democrat and Republican have a great weekend and may the markets close up.

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