U.S. Stocks Climb; Apple Surges After Buffett Buys More Stock

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are rising Friday as Apple nears an all-time high and leads a rally for technology companies. Retailers and most other groups of stocks are also higher. A slightly disappointing April jobs report didn’t have much effect on the market. Trade talks between the U.S. and China ended without a deal, but that wasn’t a big surprise to Wall Street.

Apple rose after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway company bought more of its stock.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index climbed 19 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,649 at 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 210 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,140. The Nasdaq composite jumped 83 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,171. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,558.

POLISHED: Apple rose 3.3 percent to $182.75 after Warren Buffett told CNBC his company bought another 75 million shares in the tech giant, giving it more than 240 million shares altogether. Buffett told CNBC about the purchase ahead of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting this weekend.

Apple has climbed 12.5 percent this week after the company reported solid results at the start of the year and investors were pleased with its forecast of solid iPhone sales, which came as a relief to investors. It also raised its dividend and announced a big stock repurchase.

Elsewhere in the technology industry, Microsoft gained 1 percent to $94.98.

Strong earnings reported helped other companies. Video-game maker Activision Blizzard gained 4.3 percent to $69.67. The stock dipped Thursday afternoon after Activision’s results were released early. Burger chain Shake Shack surged 22 percent to $58.04 while music-streaming company Pandora Media advanced 22.3 percent to $7.04 and Weight Watchers rose 6.5 percent to $74.27.

JOBS: U.S. employers stepped up hiring modestly in April, and the hiring estimate from March was revised higher. The economy remains resilient even though some businesses are concerned about a possible trade war. While many employers say it’s difficult to find qualified workers, they have yet to significantly boost pay in most industries. Average hourly earnings rose 2.6 percent from a year ago, which was also roughly equal to analyst estimates.

TRADE TALKS: The Trump administration asked China to reduce its trade deficit with the U.S. by $200 billion by the end of 2020, striking an assertive stance in talks aimed at averting a trade war between the world’s largest economies. It also wants China to immediately stop providing subsidies to certain industries listed in a key industrial plan and end some of its policies related to technology transfers, a key source of tension underlying the dispute. While the trade tensions have rattled investors, many market watchers think the two sides will eventually come to a deal that doesn’t disrupt trade much.

NEWELL RENEWAL: Newell Brands agreed to sell its disposable-cups-and-cutlery business to Novolex Holdings for $2.2 billion after taxes, and its stock rose 3.8 percent to $27.70. Newell’s products include Sharpie markers, Calphalon cookware and Rubbermaid. It’s trying to simplify its business after it bought consumer-products company Jarden for about $13 billion two years ago, but since then it’s fallen short on sales projections and lost billions in market value.

UNDERPOWERED: Engineering and construction company Fluor plunged after it slashed its profit forecast because a gas-fired power project suffered “continued challenges.” The company took an unexpected loss in the first quarter and now expects a profit of $2.10 to $2.50 per share for the year, down from $3.10 to $3.50 per share. The stock dropped 21.1 percent to $46.53.

BONDS: Bond prices rose early, but later gave up that gain. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.95 percent. That helped banks recover from an early loss. Lower bond yields mean lower rates for mortgages and other types of loans, which reduces profits for banks.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.9 percent to $69.04 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 0.4 percent to $73.93 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.15 yen from 109.73 yen. The euro fell to $1.1930 from $1.1993.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.8, as did the DAX in Germany. France’s CAC 40 rose less than 0.1 percent. The South Korean Kospi sank 1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 1.3 percent. Markets in Japan remained closed for a public holiday.

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