Stocks climbed in the final hour of trading after being relatively flat for much of Friday. The major indexes closed positive for the week, and gold had its best week in two months.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,469.65, +61.40, (0.35%)
- S&P 500: 2,090.77, +7.38, (0.35%)
- Nasdaq: 5,047.30, +13.74, (0.27%)
And now, the top stories on Friday:
- The US oil rig count rose for a fourth straight period this week, according to driller Baker Hughes. The oil rig count rose by 2 to 672. The gas rig count fell 2 to 211, and the total rig count was unchanged from last week at 884.
- Crude oil prices rose slightly on Friday after falling to fresh six-year lows. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures climbed to as high as $US42.92 per barrel in New York, after falling to $US41.46 overnight. In a note to clients, Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes wrote, “It’s now clear to financial markets that tackling oversupply in a world with more modest demand growth, requires a more protracted undershoot in oil prices.”
- The Eurogroup approved an 86 billion euro-bailout for Greece. It was agreed to after a six-hour meeting that followed the stamp of approval from Greece’s parliament.
- The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index showed a preliminary reading of 92.9 for August, below expectations for 93.5 and compared to 93.1 in July. The nine month average of the reading is at its highest since 2004. “Fortunately, sentiment held up in early August, another sign that the consumer confidence drop in July may have been overdone,” UBS’ Maury Harris wrote in a client note.
- Industrial production rose to an eight-month high of 0.6% (0.3% estimated), boosted by auto output. Capacity utilization rose 78%. “The big July increase in industrial production is further proof that the U.S. economy is expanding at an above-trend pace in mid-2015, after a weak start to the year tied to bad weather and the West Coast ports labour dispute,” wrote PNC chief economist Stuart Hoffman in a note.
- The producer price index for final demand rose 0.2% month-on-month (0.1% forecast). Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.3% versus 0.1% expected.
- El Pollo Loco shares slumped 19% after the company reported quarterly revenues and same-store sales below forecasts. Second-quarter revenues totaled $US89.5 million ($US93 million estimated), and sales at stores open for at least one year grew 1.3% (3.2% forecast). The Mexican-style-chicken chain expects to open as many as 24 restaurants during the fiscal year 2015.
- Lumber Liquidators jumped by up to 10% after hedge fund Tiger Management disclosed in a 13F filing that it took a new position in the hardwood flooring retailer of 238,000 shares. The stock is down about 79% year-to-date following an episode of “60 Minutes” in March that showed the company’s laminate flooring sourced in China contained excessive levels of formaldehyde. The story will be rerun this Sunday on CBS.