FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The bulls ran back into markets Friday, with the blue chips bouncing back from a three-day slump, as oil prices appeared to stabilize, somewhat allaying fears climbing energy prices would dampen chances for a global economic recovery. 

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 61.95 points, or 0.51%, to 12130, the Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 13.78 points, or 1.06%, to 1319 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 43.15 points, or 1.58%, to 2781. The FOX 50 was higher by 5.43 points, or 0.58%, to 934.

Despite today's gains, markets were down for the week, with the S&P 500 sinking 1.7% -- the worst weekly percentage decline for the broad index since November 2010. 

While oil prices were fairly stable Friday, traders kept an eye on the tumultuous oil markets that sent the price of crude surging to over $103 and then plummeting to under $96 in the previous session. Anxiety about increasing oil prices crimping the global economic recovery spawned a three-day slide for the blue chips. 

"The selloff really tapered off as a result of being extremely oversold and as a result of oil stabilizing," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital Group. "Markets are moving inverse of oil."

Oil settled higher by up 60 cents, or 0.62%, to $97.88 a barrel.  Crude was up 9.11% on the week -- the biggest weekly percentage increase since October 2009. 

On the economic front, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was unexpectedly revised higher from 75.1 to 77.5 for February -- the highest level since January 2008.  Economists were expecting the widely watched measure of strength in the consumer sector to remain unchanged at 75.3. 

"Consumers are more optimistic in their current and future economic situation, despite rising gasoline and food prices, a poor housing market, and turmoil in the Middle East," Chris Christopher, senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a research note. 

However, "the events in Libya could impact consumer spending and sentiment in a negative," said Christopher. 

Consumer spending, an important factor in economic growth, is partly affected by how consumers perceive current conditions. The U.S. dollar bounced off session lows, with the euro lower by 0.40% against the dollar, shortly after the report was released. 

Revised figures from the Commerce Department indicating the U.S. economy grew at 2.8% in the fourth quarter, significantly lower than the 3.3% economists were expecting, failed to halt the rally for stocks

Much attention was still focused on the political unrest rocking parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Indeed, the turmoil in Libya appeared poised to continue for another day as Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi urged supporters to "get ready to fight for Libya, get ready to fight for dignity, get ready to fight for petroleum" during a speech in the nation's capital, Tripoli. 

In the metals markets, gold slid $6.50, or 0.46%, a troy ounce to $1,408.70, as traders moved assets from the safe-haven back into riskier equities markets. 

Corporate Movers

American International Group (AIG) slid over 5% after surprising fourth-quarter charges to the insurance-giant's aircraft division spooked traders. 

CBS (CBS) rebounded after diving earlier in the week on fears its two-year partnership with Netflix (NFLX) would adversely affect its bottom line. 

Boeing (BA) rallied after the U.S. announced the defense giant beat out Airbus parent EADS for the $30 billion contract to build 179 new U.S. Air Force refueling planes. The controversial announcement concludes a bitter, decade-long battle for the lucrative contract. 

Intel (INTC) was one of the top-performing Dow components Friday as news that Apple (AAPL) would include its processors in its new MacBook Pro line, and Longbow giving the chip-maker a buy rating, pushed shares higher. 

Interpublic Group (IPG) announced a stronger-than-expected 45% leap in fourth-quarter profits and the ad agency parent company unveiled plans to begin paying a quarterly dividend and buy back $300 million of its own stock. Shares closed higher by 8.18%. 

Gap (GPS) reported fourth-quarter earnings Thursday of 60 cents per share, beating the street's estimate of 58 cents per share. The clothing-retailer also increased its 2011 dividend 25% to 45 cents a share and announced a $2 billion share buyback plan.

News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) plans on selling its struggling social-networking site, Myspace, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal

J.C. Penney (JCP) unveiled fourth-quarter results on Friday that just narrowly exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The retailer said it earned $271 million, or $1.13 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $200 million, or 84 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.09, topping consensus calls by a penny.

Global Markets

Foreign shares were propelled higher in late trading after U.S. blue chips rallied for the first time in three days. 

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 1.48% to 6008, Germany's DAX advanced 0.80% to 7187 and France's CAC 40 jumped 1.74% to 4079.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.71% to 10526.80, Hong Kong's Hang Seng soared 1.82% to 23012.40 and China's Shanghai Composite closed unchanged at 2878.56.

 

Follow Matt Egan on Twitter @MattMEgan5