GE profit spurs Dow to 8th weekly gain

The industrial giant's profit and revenue were up, pushing the blue chip index 0.7% higher for the week.

Stocks on Wall Street climbed as encouraging earnings from General Electric boosted industrial stocks, overshadowing a handful of disappointing reports from Bank of America and others.

GE soared 7.1% after its fourth-quarter profit jumped 51% on higher than expected revenue, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average 48.96 points, or 0.4%, to 11871.1 at the close (10am NZ time) and up 0.7% for the week.  It was the Dow's eighth straight week of gains.

Bank of America fell 2% after a surprise fourth-quarter loss, weighed down by charges from pre-announced settlements and write-downs related to mortgage problems. But other bank shares rose.

Technology stocks were weaker, led lower by AMD, which fell 6% after the semiconductor company reported mostly flat revenue growth for the fourth quarter. Google's fourth-quarter earnings jumped 29% and beat estimates, but the shares fell 2.4% after a surprise management reshuffle.

The company said co-founder Larry Page would succeed Eric Schmidt as chief executive, with Mr Schmidt assuming the role of chairman. The Nasdaq Composite fell 14.75, or 0.6% to 2689.54 and was down 2.4% for the week, its first losing week in three.

The S&P 500 index rose 3.09, or 0.24%, to 1283.35, led by the industrial sector. The measure lost 0.8% over the week, breaking a seven-week winning streak.

Other markets: Europe up, Asia down
A strong reading for a German economic-sentiment index and solid gains by the financial sector propelled European markets higher.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group jumped 6.5% on hopes it would leave the UK government’s bad-asset programme early.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.7% to close at 281.26, a weekly loss of 0.9%.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 index finished up 0.5% at 7062.42 but slipped 0.2% for the week.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.5% to 5896.25 but fell 1.8% for the week, snapping two weeks of gains.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index rose 1.3% to 4017.45, taking it to its third straight weekly gain and a 2011 high.

Concerns about inflation in Asia sparked a wave of selling in Indonesia, Japan and Korea while stocks in China recovered some of Thursday's big declines.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.6% to 10,274.52, Korea's Kospi dropped 1.7% to 2069.92 while Indonesia's JSX Composite fell 2.2% to 3379.54.

China's Shanghai Composite index rose 1.4% to 2715.29, after shedding 2.9% on Thursday, and lost 2.7% for the week, its worst weekly showing in two months.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5% to 23,876.86, Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 0.7% to 8954.38 and Singpore’s Straits Times fell 0.6% to 3184.60.

India’s Sensex lost 0.2% to 19,007.53 and Australia’s S&P/ASX was down 0.6% to 4755.65.

Commodities: Oil, gold down
Oil futures crept lower, capping a week of declining prices in New York. Light, sweet crude for March delivery, the new front-month contract, settled down 48USc, or 0.5%, at $US89.11 a barrel.

Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange rose $1.02USc, or 1.1%, at $US97.60 a barrel.

Gold futures extended two-month lows. The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, fell $US5.50, or 0.4%, to settle at $US1341 an ounce in New York.

Thinly traded nearby January gold also fell $US5.50, to $US1341, losing 1.4% on the week to close at its softest price since November 17.

Currencies: Euro up, pound down
The euro jumped to a two-month high against the dollar, rising above $US1.36 after the bullish German business sentiment report.

The gains added to a sharp two-week rally in the euro that has seen a massive sentiment shift in the common currency. The euro had been largely stuck between $US1.30 and $US1.35 for the past two months before the latest wave of momentum sent it solidly above that recent trading range.

The euro was at a four-month low as recently as January 10. On Friday, it was at $US1.3615 from $US1.3475 late on Thursday.

The US dollar was at ¥82.56 from ¥83.01, while the euro was at ¥112.41 from ¥111.85. The UK pound was at $US1.6005 from $US1.5897. The dollar was at 0.9584 Swiss franc from 0.9672 franc.