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S&P 500 pushes further into record territory

October 18th, 2013 4:04 pm by BERNARD CONDON, AP Business Writer

S&P 500 pushes further into record territory

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors shifted their focus from politics to profits on Friday, and they liked what they saw, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index further into record territory.

Two days after Congress struck a last-minute deal to keep the U.S. from a devastating default on its debt, investors were bidding up stocks on surprisingly good profits from companies in industries both old and new.

General Electric and Morgan Stanley rose after reporting more earnings than financial analysts had expected. Google surged 14 percent, topping $1,000 a share for the first time.

"We've moved from the dysfunction of Washington to the reality of the global economy, and it looks pretty good," said Ron Florance, deputy chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Investors were also encouraged by a rebound in Chinese economic growth in the latest quarter.

The S&P 500 rose nine points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,742, at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It closed at a record Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,393. The Nasdaq composite was up 44 points, or 1.1 percent, at 3,907.

The rise in stocks follows a budget standoff in Washington that kept hundreds of thousands of federal workers from their jobs for 16 days and could have forced the government to miss payments on its debt. Congress agreed Wednesday to fund the government and allow it to borrow through early next year.

Google soared $122 to $1,011. It reported a 36 percent jump in earnings after the stock market closed Thursday. An erosion in Google's ad pricing was more than offset by a big increase in the frequency of clicks on Google's ads.

General Electric rose 91 cents, or 4 percent, to $25.59. That is the highest level since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, when some investors doubted the company could survive intact. After backing out costs from shedding its media and banking operations, the industrial products maker earned 40 cents per share in the third quarter versus the 35 cents per share that analysts expected.

Morgan Stanley rose 74 cents, to $29.67, a gain of 2.6 percent. The investment bank reported that its earnings nearly doubled on strong results in stock sales and trading, beating analysts' estimates. Morgan Stanley is up 55 percent this year, the most among major banks and nearly twice the gain of the next-best performing bank stock, Citigroup.

Nine of the 10 industries in the S&P 500 rose, led by information technology companies, up 1.7 percent.

The Chinese government reported Friday that the world's second-largest economy grew by 7.8 percent in the three months ending in September, a pickup from the previous quarter. Investors have worried that slower growth would not only hurt big commodity exporters like Brazil and Australia but act as a drag on global economy, too.

Chipotle Mexican Grill jumped $67, or 15 percent, to $506, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The company reported that its third-quarter earnings rose 15 percent on higher traffic to its 1,500 restaurants.

In IPO news, a 3-D printing company from Germany called Voxeljet doubled in its debut offering, jumping $14.29 to $27.29. The company makes printers that build 3-D objects by layering plastic and other materials atop each other. It raised $84.5 million in its initial public offering.

Investors are awaiting a flood of earnings reports early next week, including McDonalds on Monday and Boeing and Caterpillar on Wednesday and Ford on Thursday.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies in the July-September period are expected to have grown 3.4 percent from a year earlier, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. That's slower than the growth of 4.9 percent in the second quarter and 5.2 percent in the first quarter.


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