Stocks Try to Put Together Another Winning Week

For a brief moment Thursday, the Dow hit 12810, a level the blue chips haven’t closed at since before the financial crisis began more than three years ago.

The Dow couldn’t hold onto that key level, and ended the day 22 points to the downside at 12734.  But with solid gains today, the Dow, the Nasdaq, and the S&P 500 can end the week in the plus column, marking four consecutive weekly gains.

There are some concerns building this morning about economic growth in the U.S.  The government says the economy grew by 2.8% in the fourth quarter.  While that was the strongest growth for all of last year, it was less than the 3.1% growth analysts had expected.  The number will be revised two more times.

A quick look around the world shows Spanish unemployment rising to 22.85% in the fourth quarter as more than five million are out of work.  That's the highest level in the eurozone, meaning that a third of all unemployed people who live in the eurozone live in Spain. Many European markets are lower Friday, though most Asian markets finished higher. The exception was Japan's Nikkei, which closed down 0.1%.

While Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) shares hit their highest level ever last week, $48.39, the stock is looking tired this morning. Despite posting record profits in its most recent quarter, shares of Starbucks are down in the pre-market as investors are concerned about the java giant's outlook for the full year.

Starbucks said last night that quarterly earnings popped 10% to a record $382 million, and revenue rose to $3.4 billion. Both measures were better than Wall Street expected. But commodity costs continue to weigh on the company's bottom line.  Starbucks was able to lock-in its coffee prices for 2012, but still faces volatile prices for other commodities including milk, sugar, and fuel.

Ford (NYSE:F) says it made more than $13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, marking the automaker's eleventh-straight quarterly profit; and for all of 2011, Ford made more than $20 billion -- its best annual earnings since 1998 and the second most profitable year in Ford's 109-year history.

But despite the headline numbers, Ford shares are selling off in the pre-market. Much of those profits are being attributed to accounting changes.  Ford also said that flooding in Thailand has shutdown some of its suppliers' plants and cut into its sales in Asia, and the company also lost money in Europe, and said it's cutting back production there in the current quarter.