Bulls Stage Comeback, But Dow Ends Week Lower

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The blue chips capped the week with a three-day rally, but it wasn't sufficient to offset steep losses from prior sessions, leading the Dow to its first four-week losing streak in more than a year.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 38.8 points, or 0.31%, to 12,442, the S&P 500 climbed 5.4 points, or 0.41%, to 1,331 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 13.9 points, or 0.5%, to 2,797. The FOX 50 gained 3.8 points to 928.

Trading was choppy much of the week: the blue chips taking triple-digit losses on Monday, falling slightly the next day, but then trading modestly higher the following three days. For the week, the Dow lost 0.56%, the S&P 500 was off 0.16% and the Nadaq lost 0.23%.

Traders were paying close attention to the economy and the European sovereign debt crisis.

The second revision for gross domestic product released Thursday showed the U.S. economy expanded at an annualized pace of 1.8% in the first quarter, less than economists were estimating, and considerably lower than the 3.1% from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Personal spending and income both increased by 0.4% in April according to the Commerce Department.  Spending came in short by 0.1% of Wall Street's forecast and income was in line with expectations.

The final reading of the Reuters / University of Michigan consumer sentiment index jumped to 74.3 in late May, from the preliminary calculation or 72.4.  Economists were expecting a reading of 72.5.

"Consumer sentiment is still at depressed levels since consumers face falling home prices, volatile stock markets, depressed levels of household net worth, and high energy and food prices which are swallowing up personal income," wrote Chris Christopher, senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight, in a research note.

Consumer spending, which can be affected by sentiment, is an important part of broad economic wellbeing. Consumer discretionary issues like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Coach (NYSE:COH) could be affected by the consumer sentiment data.

Also on the economic front, pending home sales plummeted 11.6% in April, a far bigger drop than the 1% economists were expecting.  Pending home sales are also off 26.5% since last year.

The housing market has struggled from a glut of supply, and still-choppy conditions in the mortgage market.

Many international economies continue experiencing uncertainty as well. Fitch cut its outlook on on Japan's credit rating to "negative" from "stable."  Japan's economy has been severely affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March, and the nuclear crisis that followed.

Greece is also struggling to deal with its nearly half a trillion dollar public debt load.  Officials have repeatedly refuted the concept of a restructuring of Greek debt to stave off a potential default, favoring smaller steps like privatizing government-held entities. However, no clear solution has been proposed of yet, and many economists have warned of the potential contagion risk if Greek restructures its debt, or worse, defaults on it.

Energy markets got a small boost from a weakening dollar Friday.  The greenback recently slid 0.98% against a basket of world currencies, and the euro gained 1% against the dollar.

Light, sweet crude traded higher by 36 cents, or 0.36%, to $100.59 a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline was higher by 4 cents, or 1.4%, to $3.09 a gallon.

Prices at the pump have moderated considerably this week.  A gallon of regular gas cost $3.81 on average nationwide, down from $3.89 last week, $3.88 last month, but still substantially higher than $2.76 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

In metals, gold was up $13.60, or 0.89%, to $1,537 a troy ounce. Silver jumped 53 cents, or 1.4%, to $37.86 a troy ounce.

Corporate News

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook failed to convince a judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging the technology giant's infringed on a patent regarding mobile social networking.

EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and its payment processing subsidiary PayPal are suing Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), alleging the company stole trade secrets relating to mobile payment processing.

Medco (NYSE:MHS) lost its contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield for mail-order and speciality pharmaceuticals benefit coverage for federal employees to CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS).

Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL) said it expects to earn between $870 million and $910 million in the second quarter, boosted by smartphone chip sales in China, topping estimates of $875 million.  Shares surged on the news.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 was up 0.7% to 5,939, the French CAC 40 was up 0.86% to 3,951 and the German DAX was higher by 0.69% to 7,163.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.42% to 9,522 and the Chinese Hang Seng climbed 0.95% to 23,118.