For the first time this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 18,000 on Friday. The Russell 2,000 and the S&P 500 index (SPX) also closed in record territory. Also on the upside was the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) which also closed at its highest level since March 2000. These increases marked the second week of straight gains for the main indices. What is interesting is that index prices increased despite disappointing economic data out of the U.S. on Friday. According to the University of Michigan index, consumer sentiment had declined in February to a 3-month low. Meanwhile in a separate report, data showed that due to cheaper oil prices, the costs paid for imported goods by the U.S. fell sharply again in January while export prices also declined. This trend has managed to curb inflation. As a result, at the close of trading, the Nasdaq Composite, which gained 3 percent over the week, added 0.8%, or 36.22 points, at 4,893.84 while the SPX added 0.4%, or 8.51 points, to 2,096.99. For the week, the SPX gained 2 percent. Also on the upside was the DJIA which added 0.3% or 46.97 points, to 1, 8019.35, gaining 1.1 percent for the week.
In response to the downbeat consumer sentiment data out of the U.S. on Friday, the U.S. dollar traded lower against most major currencies. According to the report by the University of Michigan, the consumer sentiment index in the U.S. fell from 98.1 in January to 93.6 in February. This was down from expectations of no change to the index. The inflation expectations for the next year from the University also increased from 2.5 percent last month to 2.8% in February. In currency trading, the EUR/USD traded at 1.1405 while the USD/JPY traded at 118.76, down 0.30 percent. Against the currencies in New Zealand and Australia, the greenback traded down with NZD/USD up 0.38% at 0.7452, while AUD/USD was also up 0.41 percent and trading at 0.7767.
On Friday, the stocks of Zynga Inc. (ZNGA, -15.79%) fell in pre-market trade on heavy volume by 12 percent. This came in response to the poor results and outlook released by the social game developer. As a result, Wall Street analysts lowered their price targets with Mike Hickey from Benchmark trimming his target from $2.45 to $2.36 while Michael Graham from Canaccord Genuity cut his target from $4.00 to $2.50. Over the past 12 months, the stocks of Zynga have lost 44 percent while the S&P 500 index (SPX) has gained 14 percent. In other earnings news, the shares of Groupon Inc. (GRPN, +6.84%) saw volatile trading in the extended trading session on Friday. This came after the online-deals company beat expectations on their fourth-quarter results yet also reported a weak outlook. Prior to the report release, Groupon shares advanced to $7.61, up 2 percent, but share prices dropped almost 8% after the report. Groupon reported revenue of $925.4 million and earnings of 6 cents a share for the fourth-quarter. Analysts had estimated revenue of $908.6 million and earnings of 3 cents a share. The company also said that for the first quarter, they expect to break even with revenue of $790 million and $840 million and earnings of 2 cents a share which was a lot lower than analysts’ expectation for $856.5 million in revenue and 2 cents a share in earnings.
All eyes were on oil prices on Friday as this commodity hit its highest level in 2015. The price of Brent crude oil moved above $60 a barrel, in response to an additional drop in the count of U.S. oil rigs to a 3-year low while the economic growth in the euro zone also exceeded expectations. At 10:48 am ET, Brent crude oil advanced $2.22 and was trading at $61.50 a barrel while U.S. crude traded at $53.15 a barrel, up $1.94. U.S. crude hit a session high of $53.32 a barrel. Analysts believe that the boost in oil prices was influenced by an unexpected acceleration in the economic growth in the euro zone during the fourth-quarter in 2014. Germany, which is the bloc’s largest member, grew twice the expected rate.