NEW YORK – Stocks rose Friday, rebounding from six-week lows hit in the previous session, after strong earnings from General Electric (GE) bolstered investor sentiment, but profit warnings from a number of other companies made the advance somewhat tenuous.
The Dow Jones industrial average (search) was up 45.95 points, or 0.45 percent, at 10,217.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) was up 4.19 points, or 0.38 percent, at 1,113.30. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) was up 13.36 points, or 0.69 percent, at 1,948.68.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.3 percent, the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3 percent and the S&P 500 index fell 1 percent.
Stocks have fallen recently on mixed economic news and anxiety over second-quarter results, which companies will be reporting over the next three weeks. With so much uncertainty, investors have been wary of making commitments, but the good news from GE restored some confidence.
"We've had a pretty tough week, with the Nasdaq down three and a half percent in just three days," said Todd Clark, head of listed equity trading at Wells Fargo Securities. "Obviously GE helped (today) ... but it's very tentative. I couldn't tell you that demand for equities is strong. I just think some of the selling pressure has abated."
Investors have become increasingly pessimistic as profit warnings pile up, notably from the tech sector. Most analysts remain upbeat, however, expecting earnings growth of 18 to 20 percent overall for the S&P 500.
"The earnings reports are largely going to be good because the economy has been decent in the past three months," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist for Schwab's CyberTrader. "What's worrying the market is what earnings are going to be, and we've seen a number of economic data in the last two weeks that show the economy cooling off."
Just a few weeks ago, ahead of the Federal Reserve's (search) June 30 decision to raise interest rates, investors were worried about rising inflationary pressure overheating the economy. The current concerns are a stark contrast to that.
"The ability for investor attention to swing so dramatically in such a short time highlights the uncertainty," Tower said. "Everybody is looking for direction. They want to find out where things are moving."
U.S. crude oil prices hovering near $40 a barrel have stoked concerns that profit growth will slow in the future. The NYMEX August crude futures contract fell 37 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $39.90 a barrel.
After reporting higher earnings, General Electric's chairman and chief executive, Jeff Immelt, said the economy is the best the company has seen in years.
"GE was the thing that really turned the market," said Todd Leone, head of listed trading at S.G. Cowen. "It's really a market bellwether."
GE rose 47 cents to $32.17 on the New York Stock Exchange and was the biggest contributor to the rise in the S&P 500 index.
Defense contractor Titan Corp. (TTN) was down 16 cents at $11.86 after saying it would post a hefty loss for the quarter on charges related to its failed merger with Lockheed Martin Corp. and a federal investigation over alleged illegal payments to overseas clients.
Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) rose 5.2 percent, or $1.27, at $25.81, a day after saying it had reached profit goals for the quarter but saw lower-than-expected revenues. Analysts weren't overly alarmed by the announcement; Banc of America Securities' Robert Stimson said fundamentals remained intact, and advised investors to buy if the company's stock weakened on the news.
Arch Coal Inc. (ACI) sank $1.95, or 5.4 percent, to $34.47, after warning investors its earnings would likely come in at the low end of expectations, largely due to rail service disruptions during the quarter.
Information technology provider Unisys Corp. (UIS) was among the day's worst performers, declining $1.99, or 15 percent, to $10.87, after the company said its profits and sales would miss forecasts because of unexpected contract deferrals and delays late in the quarter.
Trading was moderate, with about 1.2 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange and about 1.4 billion shares traded on Nasdaq.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was up 3.02, or 0.5 percent, at 563.73.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished 0.9 percent higher Friday. In Europe, France's CAC-40 declined 0.1 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX index shed 0.3 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.