U.S. stocks rallied broadly, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to a five-year high, as Wall Street braced for an incoming blizzard.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 48.92 points, or 0.35%, to 13992.97, erasing the previous day's decline of 42 points. In intraday trading, the Dow industrials briefly rose above the 14000 level for the first time since Tuesday.
The S&P 500-stock index advanced 8.54 points, or 0.57%, to 1517.93, its highest level since November 2007. The index has now notched six straight weeks of gains to start the year.
A strong showing by technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq Composite index up 28.74 points, or 0.91%, to 3193.87, its highest close in 12 years.
The broad day of gains also pushed up the Russell 2000 index of small-capitalization stocks and the Dow Jones Transportation Average to records.
Microchip Technology (MCHP)
In the Markets
The moves came as traders on Wall Street braced for a major blizzard in the Northeast. The National Weather Service said a "potentially historic" blizzard could dump as much as two feet of snow across New England and the mid-Atlantic region Friday.
Just 2.9 billion shares changed hands in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, making Friday the lowest volume of the yearâand well below this year's daily average of about 3.5 billion shares traded.
Generac Holdings (GNRC),
Otherwise, it was pretty quiet on the exchange floor, traders said. "The market was just nonexistent today," said Alan Valdes, head of floor trading for DME Securities on the floor of the NYSE in lower Manhattan. Mr. Valdes, who was leaving the exchange at about 2:15 p.m. EST to catch a ferry across the Hudson River to his home in Hoboken, N.J., said most of his employees who live in Connecticut never showed up, and those that did show up had all "bailed out" by lunch time.
"That's okay by meâI'm schlepping out of here now," he said, as he threw on his winter jacket. When Mr. Valdes arrived in the morning, the light snowfall convinced him that the promised blizzard would be "a lot of hype," but with the skies darkening in the afternoon over Manhattan, he changed his tune: "It's time to get out. The snow's really picking up now." Mr. Valdes said he was off to hit the slopes at Hunter Mountain in New York state. "The snow has been so bad this year that I haven't been skiing at all," he said.
At Cuttone & Co., a stock brokerage with a presence on the NYSE floor, senior vice president Keith Bliss said his company was operating as normal.
"We will be fully staffed the entire day," he said, "even if we know it may take us a few hours to get home tonight."
But to the north, many New England investors, typically active in the market, decided to play it safe. At least two large money-management firms sent employees home early Friday.
Money manager Wellington Management Co., which oversees $748 billion in assets, closed its Boston headquarters at 11 a.m. Friday. Loomis Sayles & Co., another Boston-based money management firm, shut its Boston office at 1 p.m. It oversees $186 billion in assets and runs equity and fixed-income trading desks.
In domestic economic headlines, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly in December, as petroleum imports fell to the lowest level in more than a decade. The deficit narrowed to $38.5 billion from $48.7 billion in November, the biggest contraction in nearly four years.
Economists and investors said the deficit data will likely mean that the initial read on fourth-quarter gross domestic product, which stunned investors last week with a 0.1% contraction, will likely be revised to a positive reading.
Global stock markets were mostly higher after data showing China's trade surplus in January narrowed to $29.2 billion from December's $31.6 billion, but exports surged 25% and imports climbed 29%, both well ahead of the previous month's increases.
China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.6% ahead of next week's weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, and Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.7% to its highest level since April 2010. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average, however, shed 1.8% to snap a 12-week winning streak, as the yen rallied and Sony (6758.TO)
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 1.2% and Italy's FTSE MIB index gained 1.4%.
Crude-oil futures pared earlier gains to slip 0.1% to $95.72 a barrel, while gold futures slipped 0.3% to $1,666 an ounce. The dollar edged up against the euro and tumbled against the yen. Demand for Treasurys fell, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year note up to 1.953%.
In corporate news, LinkedIn (LNKD)
AOL jumped 2.31 to 33.72 after reporting its first quarter of revenue growth in eight years and unveiling a $100 million stock-repurchase program.
Activision Blizzard (ATVI)
Riverbed Technology (RVBD)
Two initial public offerings were also in the mix. Units of New Source Energy Partners fell 51 cents to 19.49, making the owner of developed and undeveloped oil and natural-gas properties in Oklahoma the latest master limited partnership to struggle at the outset of trading. Separately, Health Insurance Innovations slipped 30 cents to 13.70 on its debut.—Alexandra Scaggs contributed to this article.
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