Oct. 25 - Summary: Tech leads S&P 500 to lifetime high; JPMorgan Chase announces $5.1 billion in mortgage-related settlements; durable goods orders and consumer sentiment show effect of Washington dysfunction; UPS benefits from online shopping boom. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The week on Wall Street comes to a close with a positive focus on tech, with the S&P 500 breaking out to a new record high late in the session. The influence of tech felt across the board - leading the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq higher. Blue chips rallied 1.1 percent for the week and the Nasdaq was up 0.7 percent. After the bell, JPMorgan Chase announced it will pay $4 billion to resolve all of its mortgage-backed securities litigation with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plus another $1.1 billion to settle issues with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac individually. A dose of reality on the economic front. Orders for large ticket items slipped last month, with a measure of business spending down sharply. Meanwhile, consumer sentiment tumbled in October, hitting its lowest since the end of last year. Economists say the data suggest political battles in Washington are having a negative impact on the overall economy. At least 15 Wall Street firms raising price targets on Amazon.com. The rush comes one-day after the Internet company posted strong sales growth in North America, which could set the stage for a bump in the end-of-the year shopping season. Shares of Amazon.com rising to an all-time high. By the way, United Parcel Service is getting some of that business. A rise in online shopping boosted results for the package delivery company. UPS delivered more than one billion packages worldwide in the July to September period and expects online sales to provide a further lift during the holiday season. Microsoft was among the winners of the day, one day after wowing the Street. Software sales to business clients were strong enough to offset weakness in its consumer business. Earnings season is just about half way through. Of the 243 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported, 69 percent beat earnings forecasts, which is higher than the historical norm. On the revenue side, only about half are topping expectations, which is below the norm. That analysis comes by way of Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. On to Europe now, stocks were narrowly mixed thanks to worries surrounding Telecom Italia and Volvo.