Stocks post best week in a year

By Walter Brandimarte

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Global stocks rose on Friday, recording their best week in nearly a year, while oil prices climbed on hopes that U.S. companies will report strong earnings next week.

But investors were still cautious in the run-up to the earnings season, buying U.S. dollars and gold, which rallied more than 1 percent. The earnings season starts on Monday, when Alcoa (AA.N: ), one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, reports after the closing bell.

Wall Street ended the session near the day’s highs, but volume was the lowest of the year.

The three major U.S. stock indexes traded flat to modestly higher for most of the session, with brief forays into negative territory as investors remained cautious due to fears of a double-dip recession.

But late in the afternoon, buyers scooped up some beaten-down U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) in anticipation of a healthy earnings season and a sharp rally took shape in the final hour.

“Everyone is anxious to see whether earnings are good enough to outweigh some of the more significant macroeconomic trends we’re facing,” said Jordan Posner, senior portfolio manager at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York.

“Everyone is marking time until we get some numbers,” he added.

The MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) rose 0.61 percent during the session, boosting its weekly gain to 5.1 percent — the highest since the 6.6 percent increase recorded in the week ending July 18, 2009.

The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares also finished Friday’s session with a 0.61 percent to end at 1,021.78. For the week, the index rose 5.4 percent, its biggest weekly advance since July 2009. Shares of miners and metal producers led gains on hopes for strong demand from China and positive quarterly results from U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 59.04 points, or 0.58 percent, to end at 10,198.03, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 7.71 points, or 0.72 percent, to finish at 1,077.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) gained 21.05 points, or 0.97 percent, to close at 2,196.45.

Alcoa’s stock jumped 2.1 percent to $10.94. Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ) climbed 2.4 percent to $467.46 after Beijing gave it the green light to continue operating its China search page.

But sentiment remained fragile as many investors worry the global

economy could slip back into recession. Even with the gains of the last four days, the S&P 500 is still down 11.5 percent from its most recent closing high in late April.

Underscoring the rise of concerns about the global economy, fund tracker EPFR reported on Thursday that equity funds worldwide had outflows of more than $11 billion in the first week of July.

Money market funds, considered as a safer investment alternative, received $33.5 billion during the same week, their largest inflows in 18 months.

EURO RESUMES SLIDE

The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) against the dollar as investors pocketed some proceeds from the rally that had taken the single currency to its highest level in more than two months.

Traders said the euro was unable to remain above the key resistance level of $1.27 due to lingering worries about the euro-zone economy.

“Since the $1.1877 June low, the euro has rallied an impressive 6.1 percent,” said Camilla Sutton, a currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto. “However, near-term risks continue to loom and we will see another bout of euro weakness.”

The single European currency was down 0.41 percent at $1.2641 from a previous session close of $1.2693.

On Thursday, the single currency got a lift after Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president, said the euro zone’s economy performed much better in the second quarter. However, he also said the region would grow “at a moderate and still uneven pace in an environment of high uncertainty.”

The dollar was also up against a basket of major currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index (.DXY: ) up 0.18 percent.

Against the Japanese yen, the greenback was up 0.25 percent at 88.60.

U.S. Treasury prices fell as the rally in global stocks reduced the safe-haven allure of government bonds. Investors also unloaded some government debt on Friday to make room for $69 billion worth of coupon-bearing supply next week.

The U.S. Treasury Department will sell $35 billion in three-year debt on Monday, $21 billion in 10-year notes on Tuesday and $13 billion in 30-year bonds on Wednesday.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 6/32 in price, with the yield at 3.0592 percent.

U.S. crude oil rose 65 cents, or 0.86 percent to settle at $76.09 per barrel — the highest settlement since the close at $75.63 on June 30. For the week, crude oil futures gained 5.5 percent — the most since late May.

In Friday’s session, gold prices rose more than 1 percent.

Some investors were cautious about the U.S. earnings season and others found the metal attractively priced. Spot gold jumped 1.14 percent, to $1,210.00 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London and Ryan Vlastelica, Vivianne Rodrigues and Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Jan Paschal)

Stocks post best week in a year