US stock market heads for a solid weekly gain

MATTHEW CRAFT AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market looked ready to finish the week with a solid gain, as most major indexes crept higher Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index steamed toward an all-time high in early trading, then sagged near the breakeven mark in the afternoon.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 inched up one point, less than 0.1 percent, to 1,873 as of 1:35 p.m. Eastern time. That was close to its all-time closing high of 1,878 earlier this month.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 42 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,373. The two indexes are on track to gain nearly 2 percent for the week.

The Nasdaq composite dropped 24 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,296.

COMPARE, CONTRAST: It might sound surprising that the stock market is trading near an all-time high with all the uncertainty surrounding China's slowing growth and simmering tensions between Russia and the West. But these concerns also highlight the relative health of the U.S. economy and stock market, said Dan Veru, chief investment officer of Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, N.J.

COMING BACK: A week ago, the S&P 500 index turned in a 1.9 percent weekly loss, its worst slump in nearly two months. This week looks entirely different, with the S&P 500 up 1.8 percent, as concerns have eased over China's slower economic growth.

The only stumble came Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve said it could start raising short-term interest rates as soon as next year. Traders drove down prices for gold, government bonds and stocks.

GOLDEN GATE'S TOUCH: News that Golden Gate Capital has acquired a stake in Ann Inc. sent the retailer's stock soaring $4.77, or 13 percent, to $42.02. The private equity firm disclosed the 9.5 percent stake in the parent company of Ann Taylor and LOFT late Thursday.

SWOOSH: Nike fell after warning that a stronger U.S. dollar will dampen its results this quarter. Strong demand for its shoes and apparel ahead of the World Cup in June helped its beat expectations in the previous quarter, the company said late Thursday. Nike, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, lost $3.01, or 4 percent, to $76.25.

BOOTED: Symantec lost $2.63, or 13 percent, to $18.27. The maker of security software abruptly fired its CEO late Thursday. It was the second time in less than two years that the company has dismissed its chief executive.

OVERSEAS: European indexes closed slightly higher. Germany's DAX added 0.5 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent. Russia's stock market sank 1.3 percent, extending a slump of 10 percent this month.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.7 percent. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds were little changed. The yield on the 10-year government was 2.75 percent. The price of crude oil rose $1.07 to $99.97 a barrel. Gold gained $5.80 to $1,336.30 an ounce.